ATLANTA (AP) — Hours before a 17-year-old Alabama girl was killed in a bus crash, she wrote a final journal entry about her mission trip to Africa: “God has called me here and he’s done so for a reason.”
Sarah Harmening of Huntsville jotted her thoughts about the trip to Botswana in a spiral-bound notebook, starting with her feelings of sadness and apprehension. She wrote that she turned to the Bible for comfort and by the end of the journal entry, it was clear she found trust in the Lord.
“We get to participate in his divine nature! How awesome is that?” she wrote, according to a photo of the entry posted on Facebook.
The Mount Zion Baptist Church bus from Huntsville was headed to the Atlanta airport Thursday when it collided with a car on a four-lane road, authorities said. Dozens of high school students and adults were on board.
Authorities said nine people remained hospitalized on Friday, including the driver of the bus. Their injuries weren’t considered life threatening.
Fulton County Deputy Police Chief Darryl Halbert said Friday that the crash investigation is continuing and he couldn’t discuss possible charges. Halbert said police haven’t yet interviewed the bus driver.
Police said the driver tried to change lanes as the bus headed toward the airport and collided with another car. The driver steered to the left, losing control, and the bus crossed an uneven median and rolled over, Fulton County Police said in a statement.
The bus also slid into a car traveling on the westbound side of the four-lane road. Police said Harmening died at the scene.
Images from the scene showed the bus on its roof and another car underneath it. The parkway where the crash occurred was completely closed and firetrucks and ambulances swarmed the area near Atlanta’s airport.
Authorities said the 37 other people on the bus with Harmening had various injuries and were taken to hospitals, along with three people who were in the other cars involved in the crash. Most had been released by Friday afternoon.
After some confusion over who was investigating the deadly crash, Fulton County police said they were handling the probe. The county had earlier said the NTSB would investigate.
Church education minister Terry Slay told Atlanta station WXIA-TV that the bus was carrying 11th- and 12th-graders, along with adults who were going on a an international mission trip.
Madison County Commissioner Phil Vandiver’s wife and son were on the bus. He says both are safe.
“We know they’re all right, we know we’ve been blessed,” he told reporters outside the church.
Vandiver said he spoke with both shortly after the accident but neither could provide any real details. “He was rather shook,” he said of his son. “He just told me him and his mama were fine.”
The church asked people for prayers on its Facebook page.