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Ala. School Bus Wreck Commemorated

November 27, 2006

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) _ One week after a school bus filled with students plunged off a highway overpass, Willie Hinton Sr. had a prayer ready to offer Monday to mark the exact moment.

Hinton’s son was seriously injured in the accident but survived. Four other students did not.

``I will take time to do that,″ Hinton said of the quiet prayer he planned for 10:10 a.m. CST. ``I’ll do it just as a reminder of how grateful and how thankful we are and should be.″

Huntsville schools observed a moment of silence at the same time to mark the moment of the Nov. 20 crash.

City schools spokesman Keith Ward said officials will spend this week trying to get back into a normal routine while still acknowledging students’ grief.

Two teenage girls died at the scene and two others later died from their injuries. Forty Lee High School students were aboard the bus when it plunged about 30 feet and crashed nose-first onto a street.

Local officials and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, which also involved a car being driven by another Lee student. Witnesses say that car came up on a side lane and apparently hit the bus. Both vehicles were on their way to a downtown technical center, where students can receive special science and math credits.

Students now will be bused to the center using a route that doesn’t include Interstate 565. Officials hadn’t decided yet whether students would be allowed to drive their own cars to the center.

``Something like this is such a tragic event that it can’t go away in a day or a week or a month. It’s just something that’s an ongoing process,″ Ward said Sunday.

Classes at Lee were dismissed at 11:30 a.m. Monday to allow students and staff to attend the funeral for 17-year-old Crystalle Renee McCrary.

Thousands of mourners attended three other funerals during the holiday weekend. Nicole Sharika Ford, 19, was buried Friday, while Tanesha Estella Hill, 17, and Christine Collier, a 16-year-old sophomore, were laid to rest Saturday.

Several of the injured students attended the funerals, their crutches, limps, cuts and bruises making them easy to spot.

Anthony Scott, who was driving the bus, remained hospitalized on Monday, along with two student passengers, hospital officials said.

School officials said a nonprofit charitable organization would donate and deliver 900 teddy bears to Lee High School students Monday. Ward said grief counselors would be at the campus ``just as long as they need to be.″

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