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Ala. School Bus Wreck Commemorated

November 28, 2006

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) _ Parents, teachers and students, some on crutches, limping or with cuts and bruises, attended the funeral on Monday for a 17-year-old girl who was among four students killed when the school bus they were on plunged off a highway overpass last week.

Thousands attended the funerals of Crystalle Renee McCrary’s schoolmates during the holiday weekend as people in the school and community struggled to deal with the fatal crash.

Nicole Sharika Ford, 19, was buried Friday. Tanesha Estella Hill, 17, and Christine Collier, 16, were laid to rest Saturday.

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

Huntsville schools observed a moment of silence at 10:10 a.m., the moment of the Nov. 20 crash.

At Lee High School, principal Brenda Chunn read the girls’ names and rang a bell after each, city schools spokesman Keith Ward said.

``There were a few tears, but it was a very solemn, very somber moment,″ he said.

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

Local officials and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, which authorities say 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.

Anthony Scott, the bus’ driver, remained hospitalized Monday, along with two student passengers, hospital officials said.

Ward said grief counselors would be at the campus ``just as long as they need to be.″

A nonprofit charitable organization delivered 900 teddy bears to students Monday.

``After they were passed out ... every student was carrying around a teddy bear,″ Ward said. ``It sounds like a very simple gesture, but sometimes the simple gestures mean a lot.″

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