Family mourns loss of girl killed in school bus crash

Michael Hobbs Jr. had a broken femur.
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Family members rushed to the hospital to check on their injured children from Monday morning's school bus crash.

Driver Thomas Spencer II, 60, was southbound on Emerson Ave. about two miles from his destination, Lighthouse Charter School, when for unknown reasons he crashed into a bridge pillar. Spencer was killed, along with a five-year-old student, Donasty Smith.

Donasty's family turned up at the hospital seeking answers Monday.

"Donasty, we are going to miss you. I love you," said Randall Hollis, Donasty's uncle, standing outside Riley Hospital for Children.

"Happy from the times that I always saw her. She remembered me. I mean, she was just loved by everybody," he said.

Michael Hobbs Sr. came to Riley Hospital to check on his son Michael Jr. The father described his son's first words when he walked into the emergency room.

"'Where my daddy?' I'm like, 'I'm right here.' I grabbed his hand. We held hands and he shook a little tears. I shook a little; tears. I told him we are going to stand strong. We are going to make it through this," said Hobbs.

Doctors at Wishard Hospital treated eight other students for non-life-threatening injuries. Six of them went home Monday afternoon.

But Michael Jr. and a second student remain at Riley, initially in critical care.

Michael Jr. spent Monday afternoon in surgery for a broken femur. While in the emergency room, his father says he was more concerned about his two sisters who were on the school bus.

"He was kind of scared about what happened. But he asked the nurse, 'Where are my sisters? Where are my sisters?'" said Hobbs Sr.

Hobbs believes the sisters, 14-year-old LaNae Watkins and six-year-old Neveah Hobbs, escaped injury because, unlike their little brother, they were sitting in the back of the school bus.

There were many frightening moments for family members trying to get information on the crash Monday morning.

Parents and grandparents rushed to Lighthouse Charter School unsure if their children had been on the bus. Even if they weren't, most parents still chose to take their kids home, saying they just wanted to be with them.

"I was like, Oh my God. That's my only son so I cannot take any chances. That's why I decided to come here," said Carmen Tello, parent.

"I'm just thankful that the children are okay as far as I know. My grandson is one of those who had to go to the hospital. They said he's okay. Just praying to ask God to have mercy on all of the children and the bus driver," said Beverly Watkins, grandmother.

"As a parent, my heart drops. It goes out to all the parents and the kids. It's mortifying. So rest in peace and may those other kids heal," said Michelle Garland, parent.

The school decided to dismiss students at 12:30, instead of the usual 4:00 pm.

Classes will resume Tuesday with grief counselors there to meet with students and help them express their conerns.

Lighthouse Charter School is dedicating an open phone line and staff member to field all calls and concerns regarding the tragedy. Those with questions, or in need of support, should call 317-270-4939.