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Last updated on Tuesday, March 13, 2012
(INDIANAPOLIS)(RTV6) - The mother of a 5-year-old girl who was killed in a school bus crash on Indianapolis’ east side thanked the community for their prayers Monday night.
More than 100 people gathered near the crash site in the 900 block of South Emerson Avenue, near Prospect Street, to mourn Lighthouse Charter School student Donasty Smith, 5, and bus driver Thomas Spencer II, 60.
About 50 students were on board a bus Monday morning when it crashed into a bridge abutment just after 7:40 a.m.
Donasty Smith's mother, Ebone Monet said the crash happened 15 minutes after her two daughters had gotten on the bus.
"I didn't wake up this morning expecting to see my baby gone from a bus accident," she said. "When I went to the (hospital), my oldest (7-year-old Erielle Norris) was alive, but Donasty was gone, never to return."
Smith described the 5-year-old as a silly and caring young girl.
"She was a clown. She was goofy," she said. "She would always try to make you laugh. She was nurturing and loving, and if she saw you were upset, she would come pat you on the back and say, 'It's OK.'"
Smith thanked her church family, friends and the community for offering support and prayers in the family's time of need.
"I'm thankful that my baby knew about Jesus and God before she left because I now know she will rest in peace," she said. "I would rather have my daughter back more than anything in the world."
Ten more people were injured, two boys critically. Four people were extricated from the bus.
Student Dennis McGill said he sprung into action to get his 10-year-old sister and others out of the bus to safety.
"We was just sitting there. It was all quiet and then, all the sudden, we just hit the bridge out of nowhere," he said. "Then me and my friend Ben got up and opened the emergency door and made everybody get off.
McGill's mother, Jodi Poynter, said she's thankful her two children are OK, but said her daughter is struggling to understand the tragedy.
"She asked me, 'Mom, why did they put the white sheet over the little girl?' And I just had to explain to her," Poynter said. "I really don't think it's really set in yet."
Students described Spencer as kind and caring.
"For for me it was devastating because I didn't know if all of my friends were OK, and then we find out Mr. Tom had passed away," said student Robert Harden, who attended the vigil. "It was heartbreaking because he used to be my bus driver."
Investigators aren't sure what caused the crash, and they were talking to witnesses Monday night. Light rain fell early Monday morning, but it wasn't clear if that was a factor in the crash.
Spencer's family released a statement Monday saying, "He was a good man who cared about the kids he drove and was committed to getting them to school safely."
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