New York

Husband of New Jersey Teacher Killed in School Bus Crash Issues Heartrending Statement as Students Mourn

One student and one teacher died, 43 other people were injured

What to Know

  • One student and one teacher died after the bus heading to a field trip in New Jersey collided with a dump truck Thursday on I-80 at exit 25
  • Multiple sources tell News 4, citing DOT video, that the bus driver missed the exit for the site of the class trip and attempted a U-turn
  • All other passengers on the bus were injured, some critically

The husband of a New Jersey teacher killed along with a 10-year-old student in a school bus crash that injured dozens of others says he's "in shock, devastated and totally crushed" by the tragedy.

Kevin Kennedy released a statement late Thursday, hours after the crash on Interstate 80 in Mount Olive killed Jennifer Williamson-Kennedy and an unidentified student and injured dozens of others.

The bus was carrying 38 fifth-grade students from the East Brook Middle School in Paramus and seven adults. It was headed to Waterloo Village as part of a field trip when it collided with a dump truck.

Kennedy wrote that "my beautiful bride and I have been in total love every day of our lives since the day our eyes met on May 5th, 1994."

Funeral services for Williamson will be held at Our Lady of Visitation R.C. Church in Paramus at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 24. Visitation will be Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Vander Plaat Memorial Home, according to South Passaic Daily Voice. 

At the school Friday, students and parents were mourning the beloved teacher. Stacey Bender, whose fifth-grade son was among the dozens of students on Thursday's field trip, was one of many leaving flowers at a growing memorial. 

"It's very heartfelt to have to inform your child one of his classmates did pass away along with his teacher," said Bender. 

Student Daniella Saigh wore blue to honor the victims. She said her class made cards to send to the injured. 

"It was hard," she said. "I cried a lot at school, actually."

Saigh was in Williamson's class last year, and remembered her as a popular teacher who was awlways willing to lend a hand.

Another former student, Sarah Rocha, said, "I remember she was always so caring about us, even if we had something wrong not related to school, she was always willing to be there for us." 

"She was such a nice teacher, she would help everyone she could," said former student Todd Natale. 

The student killed in the crash was a 10-year-old girl, Miranda Faith Vargas.

Police haven't commented on the cause of the crash.

Multiple sources tell NBC 4 New York that video from a Department of Transportation camera shows the school bus making a sudden U-turn in a median when it was struck by the dump truck.

Photos obtained by News 4 showed the heavily damaged bus on its side in the median, surrounded by dozens of emergency and law enforcement vehicles. The front of it was barely recognizable, a mangled chunk of broken-apart machinery spread from the highway shoulder lane through the guardrail and into the grassy median, where police and first responders tended to stunned children.

The undercarriage, the bus wheels still attached, lay perpendicular to the overturned bus, stretching out over multiple lanes of the highway.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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