The family of a Mount Zion Baptist Church member who died in a bus crash in Atlanta has identified the victim.
17-year-old Sarah Harmening is the person that died in the wreck, which also injured dozens. The family addressed the public for the first time in a news conference at The Kingdom of God Evangelistic Outreach Ministry in South Fulton, Georgia.
Her mother Karen shared a journal entry Sarah wrote prior to the trip Thursday, which the mother is now calling her "last testimony."
The entry said, in part:
I was just reminded of why I'm here and that God has called me here and he's done so for a reason. So I know he's going to do incredible things.
WellStar Health System in Atlanta said in a news conference just before 10:00 p.m. local time Thursday night its 24 patients are expected to be treated and released.
Most of the patients it received included young adults and chaperones. Their injuries ranged from cuts and bruises to sprains. Those seriously injured were sent to Grady Memorial Hospital.
The church is located on Mount Zion Road in western portions of Huntsville near the Jeff Road intersection.
Mount Zion Baptist Church members tell WAAY 31 all other church members are accounted for. The church says family members of those seriously injured are planning to travel in a small plane to Atlanta tonight. Another bus driver will pick up anyone not seriously injured and bring them back to Huntsville.
The bus was carrying dozens of people on Camp Creek Parkway near the Merk Road intersection.
Church spokesperson Frank Rucker says 39 people were on board the bus. There were adults, along with 11th and 12th graders on the vehicle. They were traveling to Botswana, Africa on a 10-day missionary trip.
A church member says the driver of the bus is a church member, and the individual currently in intensive care at an Atlanta hospital.
The church will remain open through Friday for people to come in and pay their respects. Approximately 2,000 members attend the church.
Mount Zion Baptist Church leaders sent out a Facebook message Thursday night recognizing the hundreds, if not thousands who have reached out to the church in the aftermath of the wreck.
"Thank you for your continued prayer and support. Churches around Atlanta have opened their homes to us and a Chick-fil-A branch has taken food. Our people are grateful for the outpouring of blessings and love. Please remember us in the weeks to come as we grieve and process this impact to our community. All of your prayers are greatly appreciated."
Madison County Schools spokesperson John Southerland says several Sparkman High School students were injured with some having broken bones. He did confirm that the one dead is not a student at the school district.
Madison County Commissioner Phil Vandiver's wife and son were on the bus, and he says both are safe.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the wreck. Authorities shut down the road as a result of the wreck. The Georgia Department of Transportation says it is unknown when the road will once again open for commuters.
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