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13-Year-Old Survivor Of Deadly I-79 School Bus Crash Recalls 'Traumatic' Moments

MUDDY CREEK TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) - One of the students on the school bus that crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer on Interstate 79 in Muddy Creek Township, Butler County is sharing what she witnessed.

Thirteen-year-old Karma Wilson says it all happened so fast and she's doing what she can to help.

"Literally right before it happened, I didn't know until everything hit," said Wilson.

Wilson is still struggling to remember all that happened that day. She said she and her classmates were on their way home from Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland, Beaver County when the accident happened.

"I was sitting sideways so it hit the truck in front of us and I flew in front of me. The fabric ripped off the seat and I went through," said Wilson. "I was pretty bruised up."

i-79 muddy creek township school bus crash butler county
(Photo: NewsChopper 2)

She was sitting in the middle of the bus. State police say the bus driver, Lindsay Thompkins, and the student sitting directly behind him, 14-year-old Brylee Walker, were killed.

In a text, Brylee's parents told KDKA's Amy Wadas: "Brylee was a beautiful soul. She was always smiling. She had the biggest heart and was wise beyond her years. Music and singing was her passion. This was her first year at Lincoln Park where she was the only 9th grader accepted into the student council due to her outstanding essay. We wouldn't wish this tragedy on any parent ever, but also ask ourselves why. One child fatality and it was ours."

Shereka Simmons said driving school buses for R.J. Rhodes Transit was her brother's passion, and he always aspired to be his own boss. She says the loss is hard to bear. First she lost her mother just a year ago, and now she's losing her brother, a father of two.

"I had to bury her and now have to bury my other best friend. They're together and I'm here by myself," said Simmons.

She's by herself and wondering how the crash happened. State police say they're still putting the pieces together, including whether speed was a factor.

"All it indicates is the bus was traveling at a speed faster than the tractor-trailer which caused a rear-end collision," said Trooper Josh Black with Troop D in Butler.

State police say 13 students were on the bus that day, all between the ages of 13 and 17. Karma Wilson says it's still hard to think about.

"Someone from the back of the bus opened the emergency exit and called 911. By the time all of us got out, people were coming out of cars to help us," said Wilson. "It was really traumatic."

Wilson is raising money to help Brylee Walker's family, even though she didn't know Brylee very well.

Meantime, UPMC said six people went to Children's Hospital with minor injuries, and doctors treated and released all of them.

State police say tractor-trailer driver Karandeep Singh and his passenger weren't hurt.

If you have any information on the crash, state police are asking the public to give Troop D a call at 724-284-8500.

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