Community grieves following deadly school bus crash

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PARAMUS -

Parents, students and school staff at a Paramus middle school are in mourning following a deadly crash involving a bus full of fifth-graders.

Parents rushed to East Brook Middle School Thursday morning after getting word that one of the buses headed to Waterloo Village for a school field trip was involved in a crash with a dump truck on Interstate 80 in Mount Olive.

At least one parent was fighting back tears when he went to the school to pick up his daughter who was not on the bus that crashed.

MORE: Authorities investigate if bus driver made illegal U-turn before crash
RELATED: Students, teachers injured in school bus crash taken to 6 hospitals

“I cried the whole time. It’s very emotional,” said Manny Pinto.

Students said that the mood inside the school was somber for most of the day.

“All the teachers started crying and we were all just wondering what was going on,” one student said.

Interview: NJ Statewide Traumatic Loss Coalition coordinator Maureen Brogan

The teachers were able to provide their students and each other with some support.

“I’m part of a family that I love in there and we all just hang together and everyone was very professional until all kids were out and then we all game together as a family and supported each other,” said substitute teacher Pat Nicoletti.

A student and teacher were killed in the crash. The student’s name has not been released, but News 12 New Jersey has confirmed that the teacher was Jennifer Williamson-Kennedy, who taught in the district for about 20 years.

Over 40 others involved in the crash were taken to area hospitals to be treated for a wide variety of injuries.

A vigil was held at the school Thursday evening to remember the victims.

The school superintendent says that the school will be open Friday and that grief counselors will be on hand.

All remaining school field trips have been canceled for the rest of the year.

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