June 8, 2017
Update at noon June 9: ABC News is reporting that the crash happened when the driver attempted to change lanes and collided with another vehicle. “Fulton County Police said in a news release that the driver then steered to the left, lost control and the bus crossed over an uneven median and rolled over,” according to ABC News. “The bus slid into a car traveling on the westbound side of the four-lane road.” Related to the fatality, CBS 46 covered the press conference with the family of Sarah Harmening (the 17-year-old killed in the crash) … http://www.cbs46.com/story/35622658/crews-respond-to-bus-wreck-on-camp-creek-parkway-in-fulton-county
By Jennifer Davis Rash
The Alabama Baptist
Mount Zion Baptist Church, Huntsville, staff got word a few minutes before 4 p.m. this afternoon (June 8) that one of its two student missions team buses had been involved in a serious accident. And within three hours, the “PRAY!” Facebook post had received more than 1,000 comments and close to 1,200 shares. Believers across the state, nation and world are praying.
Those prayers are needed because one of the students in the group was killed in the crash — Sarah Harmening. Sarah had been journaling just prior to the accident and her mom shared the last journal entry on Facebook a few hours after the accident.
“I was just reminded of why I’m here and that God has called me here and He’s done so for a reason,” Sarah wrote. “So I know He’s going to do incredible things.”
The accident reportedly involved the bus and two cars with the bus landing on top of one of the cars when it overturned. Parents headed to Atlanta as soon as they heard the news and city officials as well as church officials are working to get the most accurate and updated information to the families.
Dozens of students were injured and four remain in critical condition. Thirty-eight people were on board the church bus at the time of the crash, Fulton County police confirmed, according to AJC.com.
Those injured have been taken to four different hospitals in the area, according to WSB-TV 2.
Students with only minor injuries are gathering in hospital auditoriums and other locations in Atlanta with family, friends and church staff to receive updates on those with serious and critical injuries. Back in Huntsville, the church will remain open all night tonight for friends and family members to gather as they hear updated reports.
The group from Mount Zion was made up of 11th and 12th graders and adult chaperones including at least one of the church’s two student ministers. The missions team was headed to the Atlanta airport for a flight this evening to Botswana. Information about the second bus has not been included in the media reports.
The bus was about seven miles from the airport on Camp Creek Parkway at Merk Road when it overturned. Reports are unclear about what caused the accident but the National Transportation Safety Board is handling the investigation.
Madison County Commissioner Phil Vandiver, who represents that area, was at the church this afternoon, according to al.com. He reported the church was going to remain open tonight for families to gather.
Fulton County (Georgia) officials are asking parents of those involved in the crash who need information to contact Chris Hunter with American Medical Response. The number is 404-308-2299. AMR will provide family reunification information at its offices at 3505 Naturally Fresh Blvd.
Look for more of the story in the June 15 issue of The Alabama Baptist.
—with onsite reporting by Margaret Dempsey-Colson