Witness: Teen Hero in Deadly Missouri School Bus Crash

Two dead and 50 injured in crash, but it could've been worse, witness says.

August 5, 2010, 1:03 PM

Aug. 6, 2010 — -- In the chaotic aftermath of a deadly Missouri school bus crash Thursday, one of the teens on the bus, Megan Fleming, 16, snapped into action to keep her friends calm and check on injuries before leading them off the bus, one of the injured girls said today.

"She [Megan] was amazing," Audrey Hofherr, 16, who was on one of the two crashed buses, said today on "Good Morning America."

"She got everybody calm and got us all organized, had us all organized so we could get off the bus. We wouldn't have been able to get off without her. She was checking on everybody, making sure everybody was OK."

Audrey said the teens, who were on their way to Six Flags on a band trip, had no warning before the crash.

"Right before the accident, no one really thought anything of it. We were talking," she said. "We were all really excited about Six Flags. It was all of the sudden just jolted forward and people were screaming. It was just really scary."

One of the two teens killed in the wreck, Jessica Brinker, was a friend of Audrey's. She had celebrated her 16th birthday June 30.

"She was an amazing person and a great friend to anyone who met her," Audrey said of Jessica. "She was extremely brilliant and just one of those people that lit up the room."

In a statement released Wednesday night, Jessica's family said, "Jessica had asked that all friends, in the event of her death, to wear bright colors to celebrate her short life here on this planet and to rejoice in her new life with Christ."

According to Cpl. Jeff Wilson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Jessica was sitting in the last seat of the first bus, the point at which the second bus crashed into the first.

Although two, including Jessica, died in the crash, Audrey credited strangers who, along with Megan, helped rescue the injured from the wreckage, including at least one man that came into the bus to help get the injured out.

"We were so grateful that Good Samaritans came and helped us," Audrey said.

The crash occurred at about 10:15 a.m. Thursday when a tractor with no trailer was rear-ended by a pickup truck, according to Sgt. Dan Crain of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. It is believed that the tractor had slowed due to construction on the highway.

Missouri Bus Crash: 'Eyes Off the Road'

Katherine Shaelford, driver of the first school bus carrying the camp's female members, had taken her "eyes off the road" to check her mirrors so she could shift into the left lane when she failed to notice the accident, Crain said Thursday. That bus then crashed into the pick-up truck, pushing it up and over the tractor.

The second bus carrying the male campers, driven by Kelly McCennis-Mullenix, then struck the first bus, pushing it on top of the tractor and the pick-up truck.

The other victim, Daniel Schatz, a 19-year-old former quarterback at the University of Missouri, was driving the pick-up.

When the vehicles were pried apart, the pick-up truck was so badly crushed that it was barely recognizable as a truck.

The students, high schoolers from John F. Hodge High School in Missouri's St. James High School District, were members of a band.

Joy Tucker, the superintendent of the St. James school system, said Thursday the entire town was devastated.

"It's been a horrible, horrible day in our community, and we'll never get over this," Tucker said.

The posted speed limit on Interstate 44 is 70 mph. Crain said it was not yet clear how fast the drivers were going and whether they had been speeding at the time of the accident.

Only eight of the victims had injuries serouis enough to warrant taking an ambulence to a hospital, said Crain.

It was the last day of band camp and the children were on the annual end-of-camp trip to a Six Flags amusement park when the collision occurred about an hour from the school.

ABC News' Susan Caraher and Lisa Stark and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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