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Meigs County holds 2nd vigil after deadly bus crash, as seat belt discussion resumes

Candlelight vigil at Meigs South Elementary School 10.30.2020 - WTVC.PNG
The Meigs County community gathered on Friday, October 30th at Meigs South Elementary, a second vigil after Tuesday's deadly bus crash. (Image: WTVC)

UPDATE (Friday, October 30):

A second vigil was held Friday night to remember the lives of those taken in the Meigs County bus crash earlier this week.

As folks gathered by candlelight at Meigs South Elementary, speakers got up to pray and spread messages of strength and unity during this difficult time.

Though this tragedy has caused unspeakable pain, residents are confident this will only make the community stronger.

We spoke with the Meigs County Sheriff Jackie Melton who said during his years in the county, people from all over have come to support when tragedy strikes and he expects no different during this time.

The crash is bringing back the debate about seat belts on school buses. Right now, only eight states in the U.S. require them, and that does not include Tennessee.

Tennessee Highway Patrol says the Meigs County school bus involved in the crash, bus #12-1, did not have seat belts.

Legislation was introduced in Tennessee after the Woodmore tragedy in 2016, but it did not pass.

State Representative Susan Lynn from Wilson County was one of the lawmakers who supported the legislation. She is planning on re-introducing the bill.

Tennessee's Department of Education did create a grant fund for seat belts, however the only school system in our area to apply for it was Sequatchie County.

ORIGINAL STORY (Wednesday, October 28):

Community members gathered Wednesday night to pay tribute to the lives lost in the bus crash in Meigs County, and show support and comfort those grieving.

It's a tragedy for the Meigs County community, after the Tennessee Highway Patrol said in their preliminary report that two people — a 7-year-old girl and bus driver Lisa Dillard — were killed in the crash Tuesday afternoon. Seven other students were injured and taken to the hospital.

"How do you tell your kids about this? How do you go about doing it? They have more questions than I definitely have answers for," said parent Ashley Justice.

Justice wonders what to say to her second grader who had homeroom with the girl law enforcement says passed away in the accident.

"She was very funny, she was very smart. She would always like to play with me and her friends," said second grader Brailee Justice.

The 7-year-old's name has not yet been released by officials.

Little Brailee says she used to play tag with her friend, and if she could see her right now this is what she'd say:

"I would say I’m so happy to see you, I hope you have a good life," said Brailee.

Brailee is one of many students who are mourning the young girl and bus driver who passed away.

The town of Decatur invited the community to a candlelight vigil at the Meigs County Fairgrounds Pavilion at 7pm ET.

Related: THP releases preliminary report on deadly Meigs County school bus crash

"I think it was real for everybody. I think it hit everybody in ways they never thought it would hit them. You don’t have to have family on that bus, it will still hit you hard," said Meigs County student Ethan Hill.

When we last heard, Director of Schools Clint Baker said four children from the crash were still in the hospital as of Wednesday afternoon.

"I mean that could have been my kids, that could have happened to any of us. It doesn’t have to be a bus, it could be us driving down the road, it could be anybody, you never know," said Justice.

A spokesperson had an important message for the group- to remember to drive safe because whether it was the utility truck driver, or someone on the school bus, the incident could have happened to anyone.

You can watch the event above, or on our Facebook page here.

This is a developing story and will be updated.