CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF) — The Thanksgiving holiday has been a day of mourning for the families affected by the deaths of six children who were killed in a school bus crash this past Monday.
While most people celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving by enjoying the company of family and friends, Antwon McClain spent time comforting relatives and friends at the memorial site on Talley Road where six children were fatally injured in the school bus crash.
The children were all students at Woodmoore Elementary.
McClain’s little niece Zoei was one of the students killed in the crash.
“Just to see this is a beautiful thing. Six angels left us and went home to be with the lord so I’m really appreciative of all the support,” McClain said.
His nephew Zacharia was also on the bus.
“He was in ICU for a while. He’s doing a lot better. He’s really pulling through strong.”
McClain wasn’t the only person spending time at this memorial site. Many people with no direct ties to any of the victims spent part of their Thanksgiving paying their respects to the children who were killed.
“My heart is real heavy for the idea that the families don’t have their kids there for Christmas or Thanksgiving, so I just came down here to lift up some of my sadness,” said Chattanooga Resident Sunshine Jones.
“I just wanted to give my condolences and say that if they need anything or need to talk, I’m here for them,” said Chattanooga Resident Terenda Simmons.
“All I could think about last night was what kind of memorial should be placed here for these little ones,” said Chattanooga Resident Carolann Haggard.
News 12 spoke to spoke Albert Smiley who also came to pay his respects to the children who died. Smiley explained that while it was important for him to visit the memorial site to pray for the children and their families, he’s also thinking about the driver of the bus who is accused of causing the crash.
“I don’t think any of us have the right to set judgment on anybody because we don’t know the situation that led up to that. If we just allow god to humble us until we get a complete understanding then we can make our decision on really what happened, but up until that point. it’s between him and god and those kids,” Smiley said.
Johnthony Walker, 24, is facing six counts of vehicular homicide, reckless driving and reckless endangerment. He remains in jail on a $107,000 bond.
Walker makes his first court appearance next Tuesday.