Students talk about Mesa Vista school bus crash

Posted at: 04/08/2013 10:35 PM
Updated at: 04/09/2013 6:50 AM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Several students are recovering Monday evening from injuries – some of them serious – after their school bus crashed near Espanola. The driver died, and nine students were hurt. Three students had to be flown to UNM hospital.

Many classmates found out about the crash when they got to school and noticed their friends weren’t there.

Others had their parents pick them up and spent the day at the hospital sitting beside their injured classmates.

16-year-old Rusti Dawn Varela is among the nine students rushed to Presbyterian Hospital Monday morning, but her family says her injuries are so severe she’s one of those airlifted to Albuquerque for treatment.

"I'm like really sad and shocked for her. I don't know what to feel," student Brittany Garcia said.

The high schoolers showed KOB Eyewitness News 4 pictures of their friends, who were also on the bus with Varela.

"She's one of our best friends so we felt it was important to be there with her family,” classmate Santana Gallegos said.

Leroy Campos, another student, described the injuries.

“Some of them have broken legs," He said. "Their jaw - their teeth are missing.”

Some kids say they heard the ambulances and police cars this morning, but never thought they’d see this.

“Oh my god, it was very crazy everyone was about to cry,” Amanda Trujillo said.

Pain that hurts even more for Mesa Vista students knowing Pat Valdez, the only bus driver they’ve ever had, didn’t make it.

“He drove me since I was little. I remember after school programs, summer school,” Campos said.

“He'd always make playful jokes on the bus when you got in," Trujillo said. "He was very nice.”

A kind face that will always be remembered as friends try to comfort those left behind.

“She just doesn't remember everything. She's in total shock,” Campos said.

When asked what he told her, Campos said, “she'll be in my prayers.”