‘God called me here’
ATLANTA (AP) – Hours before a 17-year-old Alabama girl was killed in a bus crash, she wrote one last diary entry about her missionary trip to Africa: “God called me here and he did it for a reason. “
Sarah Harmening from Huntsville wrote down her thoughts on the trip to Botswana in a spiral-bound notebook, starting with her feelings of sadness and apprehension. She wrote that she turned to the Bible for comfort and by the end of the journal entry it was clear that she had found trust in the Lord.
“We can participate in his divine nature! How awesome is that? She wrote, according to a photo of the entrance posted on Facebook.
The Mount Zion Baptist Church bus from Huntsville was heading for the Atlanta airport on Thursday when it collided with a car on a four-lane highway, authorities said. Dozens of high school students and adults were on board.
Authorities said nine people were still hospitalized on Friday, including the bus driver. Their injuries were not considered life threatening.
Fulton County Deputy Police Chief Darryl Halbert said Friday the crash investigation was continuing and he could not discuss possible charges. Halbert said police have yet to question the bus driver.
Police said the driver attempted to change lanes as the bus was heading towards the airport and collided with another car. The driver veered left, losing control, and the bus crossed an uneven median and rolled over, Fulton County police said in a statement.
The bus also slipped into a car traveling on the west side of the four-lane highway. Police said Harmening died at the scene.
Footage from the scene showed the bus on its roof and another car below. The boardwalk where the crash happened was completely closed and fire trucks and ambulances swarmed the area near the Atlanta airport.
Authorities said the 37 other people on the bus with Harmening suffered various injuries and were taken to hospital, along with three people in the other cars involved in the crash. Most had been released on Friday afternoon.
After some confusion over who was investigating the fatal crash, Fulton County Police said they were handling the investigation. The county had previously said the NTSB would investigate.
Church Education Minister Terry Slay told Atlanta station WXIA-TV that the bus was carrying grade 11 and 12 students, as well as adults going on an international mission trip.
Madison County Commissioner Phil Vandiver’s wife and son were on the bus. He says the two are safe.
“We know they are doing well, we know we have been blessed,” he told reporters outside the church.
Vandiver said he spoke with the two shortly after the crash, but neither could provide actual details. “He was pretty shaken up,” he said of his son. “He just told me that he and his mum were okay.”
The church has asked people to pray on its Facebook page.
Associated Press Writer Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.