Community holds blood drive in honor of victims of I-80 school bus crash

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PARAMUS -

Community Blood Services held a blood drive in Paramus Wednesday in honor of the victims of the East Brook Middle School school bus crash.

Many members of the community, whether they had a personal connection to the victims or not, came out for the blood drive. Officials said that within several hours, they were able to collect at least 43 units of blood.

Student Miranda Vargas and teacher Jennifer Williamson-Kennedy were killed in the May 17 crash. Over 40 others, including over 30 students, were injured.

“You see these fifth-graders, they’re the walking wounded,” said teacher Mary Hall. “You see them with their slings and crutches and walkers and there’s strength in there. And they’re smiling. And they have their little teddy bears with them.”

Hall said that she knew Williamson-Kennedy ever since she began her career at the school.

RELATED: Bus driver in fatal I-80 school bus crash released pending trial
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RELATED: Paramus school bus driver charged for deaths in I-80 crash

"I walked by her classroom the other day.  It's like, she's not there anymore. You still feel it and it's going to be a while until the healing really takes place,” Hall said.

But members of the community have begun to get together to help that healing.

“How can you not get involved?  Even if you didn't know anybody, just the fact that you're from town. It's such a tragedy,” said Paramus resident John Dull, who was donating blood.

Former Paramus resident Christopher Kalman said that he came from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to donate. His younger brother is a sixth-grader at East Brook.

“As the details came out, it was gut wrenching.  You just watch the news and see what's going on.  You can't believe something like that would happen,” Kalman said.

School bus driver Hudy Muldrow is facing reckless vehicular homicide charges related to the crash. Prosecutors say that he attempted to make an illegal U-turn on Interstate 80 after he missed a turn. The bus was hit by a dump truck.

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