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Vigil held for Neshaminy student injured in Boston bus crash

February 4, 2013 8:51:09 PM PST
Classmates and friends held a vigil in Penndel, Bucks County, offering support to a young man critically hurt in a bus crash in Boston Saturday night.

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The vigil took place at Matt Cruz's parish Our Lady of Grace, led by Father Jim DeGrassa.

DeGrassa said the 17-year-old Neshaminy High School student underwent yet another surgery on his neck Monday night.

"He's a good kid. I was just talking to him the other night at youth group and we were baking cookies for the shut-ins and we were just joking around," friend Taylor Esher said.

Taylor and her sister, Sarah, know the Neshaminy High School student well.

"He's a really positive upbeat person who is really strong and I think he can pull through this," Sarah Esher said.

Earlier, Father DeGrassa also identified one of the other injured students as Joey Cleary.

Cruz and Cleary were among the 35 people injured in the crash.

Some remain in Boston hospitals, but a small group arrived back home around 12:30 a.m. Monday, but did not want to talk.

Investigators say the bus slammed into an overpass around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, trapping 42 people inside.

17-year-old Alana Merrigan was napping in the back of the bus when she was jolted from her seat

"I just remember getting thrown into the seats. I didn't know what happened," Alana said.

Panicked and confused she immediately dialed her parents on her cell phone

"She's just screaming and freaking that the roof is caving in and [her father's] like 'calm down are you alright, what's going on, tell me what is going on around you,'" Teresa Merrigan said.

"I don't know what to say, I felt helpless, I can't get there in five minutes you know what I mean," Gary Merrigan said..

Alana, a junior at Bucks County Technical High, is nursing a concussion and an injured foot from the crash.

"(She said) that she was trapped in the bus. She could hear sirens and some people and parents were really trapped," Gary said.

Because she was in the back of the bus, she was among the first to be rescued and helped hoist several of her friends through a roof escape Hatch.

But it took an hour to extract the more severely injured and trapped

"It was a very scary experience. I wasn't expecting it and you would think the driver would have been aware of the height of the bus and the height of the [overpass]," Alana said.

Alana is now back home and her family says they are focused on her recovery.

The students and chaperones had just taken a tour of Harvard University through the Destined for a Dream Foundation, which is based in Bristol Borough.

Massachusetts State Police say the driver of the bus, Samuel J. Jackson, missed several height limit signs on Soldier's Field Road.

The bus belongs to Calvary Coach out of West Philadelphia, which Action News has learned had two unspecified safety violations in the past two years.

"He said he looked at the GPS, looked down to make the turn and when he looked back up, the bridge was a low bridge, he hit the low bridge," said Ray Talmedge, Calvary Coach owner.

Curtis Hill, the husband of Destined for a Dream founder Erica Hill, says his wife and board members are in Boston checking on the victims while he's been in the office taking calls from parents.

"What went through my mind was basically that I was shocked. I was kind of devastated but I was concerned for the students," said Hill.

Meanwhile, State Police in Massachusetts say the bus driver has not been cited or charged, but they continue to investigate.


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