Miranda Vargas

Marrocco Memorial Chapel

Funeral Held For 10-Year-Old Girl Killed In New Jersey School Bus Crash

May 21, 2018 - 8:25 am

CLIFTON, N.J. (WCBS 880) -- A funeral service was held Monday for one of two victims killed in last week's bus crash on Route 80.

Friends and family gathered at the Marrocco Memorial Chapel in Clifton to remember 10-year-old Miranda Vargas.

Mourners lined up Sunday to pay their respects to the fifth grader at her wake. Police cars and fire trucks filled the parking lot.  

"I feel sorry for this family," said Beatrice Martinez, whose granddaughter was aboard the doomed bus and broke her elbow and injured her leg. "Her name is Miranda, too.  But thank God she’s alive."

Julio spent part of the weekend with Vargas’ grandfather.

"He’s very broken," Julio said.

"It's very devastating for them," family friend Ezekiel Sanabria said. "My heart breaks for them. As a parent I can't imagine what a family will be going through at this moment."

Vargas and East Brook Middle School teacher Jennifer Williamson were killed when the bus, heading out on a field trip, hit a dump truck on I-80 in Mount Olive.  

Lawyer David Fried is representing the girl’s family, with the cause of the tragedy still under investigation.

"They just want the truth to come out.  They want the facts to come out and they want justice," he said. "A lot of questions, I have not yet spoken to the prosecutor so I don't know what answers there are at this point."

The deadly crash happened on Thursday. Video of the crash apparently shows the bus driver attempted a U-turn by turning from an access road across the interstate when it was hit by a dump truck. 

PHOTOS: Deadly New Jersey School Bus Crash

The video from the New Jersey Department of Transportation has not been made public, but a source who watched it tells CBS News the bus got off at the exit for Waterloo Village, where the East Brook Middle School students were heading on a field trip, but the driver made a wrong turn and headed back to Interstate 80, WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported. Then instead of merging onto the highway, he tried to make a sharp left from the accress road across three lanes of traffic toward a turnaround that's restricted to official vehicles. At that point, a dump truck traveling westbound crashed slammed into the rear of the bus, separating the cabin of the yellow bus from its chassis.

The bus flipped on its side over a guard rail and came to rest on the grassy median in Mount Olive. 

There were 38 fifth grade students and seven adults, including the driver, on the bus.

Meanwhile, the trucking company, Mendez Trucking in Belleville, has 247 safety violations over the past two years, 13 driving citations and eight accidents.

The funeral for the teacher who also died in the crash – Jennifer Williamson, 51 – will be held on Thursday in Paramus. Her wake will be held Tuesday and Wednesday.

The outpouring of support for the victims of the crash has been overwhelming.

A GoFundMe page set up for the Vargas family has raised more than $85,000.

A separate online fundraiser for East Brook Middle School in Paramus has raised nearly $35,000.

Gov. Phil Murphy has announced flags in New Jersey will be flown at half-staff this week in memory of Williamson and Vargas.