Fifth-grader Miranda Vargas and 51-year-old teacher Jennifer Williamson died on the way to a field trip last Thursday when the school bus collided with a dump truck on I-80 in Mount Olive Township. More than 40 others were injured.
Vargas is survived by her parents, two brothers and a twin sister. Her parents penned a heartbreaking obituary.
"To our princess, we know that an angel was needed, and you were it," they wrote. "You have always been an angel and God has decided to bring you home. Please continue to look after us. This decision God has made in painful. We will miss you and never forget you. You have always been our baby and you continue to be exactly that."
The bus was one of three taking students from East Brook Middle School in Paramus to Waterloo Village, a historic site depicting a Lenape Indian community and once-thriving port. The other buses made it to the site but returned to the school following the crash, which left the bus lying on its side on the guardrail with the front ripped off and the undercarriage sheared off.
"It is so difficult to put into words the sorrow that is felt over the tragic loss of our beautiful student Miranda Vargas and our beloved teacher Mrs. Williamson," the East Brook Middle School PTA said on its Facebook page. "As we mourn the tragic loss of these beautiful angels, we continuously pray for the students and teachers who remain in the hospital and those who are dealing with their injuries and scars both physically and emotionally."
On Sunday, mourners came together to remember the victims at a wake and separate memorial.
"Every one is really devastated," one attendee said. "So we wanted to come together as a community and pay our respects."
Related: 11-year-old relives horrific moments of New Jersey bus crash
"They have a very strong family unit and they are a very devout people," another said. "And I think their faith will help them get through this very difficult time."
Miranda's uncle is still coming to grips with the horrible tragedy.
"It's been a horrible experience, losing my niece and my brother's daughter," Carlos Argueyes said. "And her twin being without her sister now has been very tough."
A funeral Mass for Williamson, whose obituary notes that she "taught in the same grade and same classroom in East Brook Middle School for 20 years," is scheduled at 10 a.m. Thursday at Our Lady of the Visitation Roman Catholic Church in Paramus.
Thirty-eight kids, six chaperones and both drivers were all injured in the crash.
The investigation is still ongoing.
Send a News Tip to Action News
Learn More About 6abc Apps