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Meigs County high schooler helped younger students to safety after deadly bus crash

Meigs County high schooler Cheyenne Lawson speaks about deadly bus crash, helping students to safety - Isaiah Kim-Martinez WTVC.jpeg
Meigs County high schooler Cheyenne Lawson turned 18 today. She spoke with Isaiah Kim-Martinez, just one day after being on board bus #12-1 during a devastating crash, and told of how she helped younger students to safety. (Image: Isaiah Kim-Martinez WTVC)

A Meigs County high schooler is recounting the moments from her experience in the devastating bus crash on Highway 58, which killed both the driver and a 7-year-old girl.

Cheyenne Lawson put her pain to the side to help others.

She is no stranger to being a strong member of this family. For years, she’s taken care of her older brother, who battles cerebral palsy.

“From that, it caused him to be paralyzed on the right side of his body,” she said.

So when it was time to take the lead, even while she was in pain with injuries of her own, Cheyenne stepped up.

“She was hurt, and still went above and beyond to help her friends,” said Michael Lawson, her father.

We spoke to Michael Lawson and his daughter Wednesday afternoon, just the day after investigators say the bus she and other Meigs County students were riding was hit head on by a utility vehicle that lost control.

“The next thing you know, you’re just flying around, and you just start hearing screaming,” Cheyenne said.

She says that’s when she began to run on adrenaline.

“I got her calm, and she said she was okay – and then I said, ‘You have to get the kids off the bus,’” Michael Lawson said.

Cheyenne and other high schoolers quickly cracked open the side exit and began helping the younger kids get out.

“They’re tiny, and they’re all alone,” she said. “They’re hurt, and they need help, and you need that mindset to let them know that they’re going to be okay.”

On Wednesday, Cheyenne turned 18. The day prior, she showed maturity beyond her years.

And while she and many others grieve at home, her dad received a phone call from Meigs County High School.

The message: Cheyenne did a great, brave thing.

“Even if you don’t know somebody, you see them having a hard time, try to be there for them,” Cheyenne said. “Comfort them in any way you can.”

The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating this crash. See info from THP's preliminary report here.

Related: Grief-stricken community holds candlelight vigil after Meigs County school bus crash