Teen’s final journal entry before deadly bus crash: ‘God has called me here’

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Sarah Harmening / WGCL-TV

ATLANTA (CBS) Hours before a 17-year-old Alabama girl was killed in a bus crash that left 39 others injured, she wrote a final journal entry about her mission trip to Africa: “God has called me here and he’s done so for a reason.”

Sarah Harmening of Huntsville jotted her thoughts about 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 she found trust in the Lord.

“We get to participate in his divine nature! How awesome is that?” she wrote, according to a photo of the entry posted on Facebook.

The Mount Zion Baptist Church bus from Huntsville was headed to the Atlanta airport Thursday when it collided with a car on a four-lane road, authorities said.

In this image video from WSB-TV Atlanta, authorities render assistance to injured people on an overturned church bus, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Atlanta. Mount Zion Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., posted on its Facebook page that one of its buses with its student ministry mission was involved in a crash while traveling to the airport. (WSB-TV via AP)

Police said the driver of the bus tried to change lanes and collided with another car. The driver steered to the left, losing control, and the bus crossed an uneven median and rolled over, Fulton County Police said in a statement on Friday.

The bus also slid into a car traveling on the westbound side of the four-lane road. Authorities said Harmening died at the scene of the crash, CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports.

Images from the scene showed the bus on its roof and another car underneath it. The parkway where the crash occurred was completely closed and firetrucks and ambulances swarmed the area near Atlanta’s airport.

Authorities said the 37 other people on the bus with Harmening had various injuries and were taken to hospitals, along with three people who were in the other cars involved in the crash. Police said no other injuries are life-threatening.

After some confusion over who was investigating the deadly crash, Fulton County police said they were handling the probe. The county had earlier said the NTSB would investigate.

A church spokesman told WGCL-TV that the bus was carrying a group of high school juniors and seniors who were headed to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for a mission trip to Botswana.

The spokesperson said 42 adults and students were on the bus, which landed on top of a car.

Madison County Commissioner Phil Vandiver’s wife and son were on the bus. He says both are safe.

“We know they’re all right, we know we’ve been blessed,” he told reporters outside the church.

Vandiver said he spoke with both shortly after the accident but neither could provide any real details. “He was rather shook,” he said of his son. “He just told me him and his mama were fine.”

The Madison Baptist Association on Thursday urged its followers on Facebook to pray the victims and their families.

“Prayer warriors, please be in prayer for the Mount Zion Baptist Church team (11th – 12th graders) headed to the airport in Atlanta to go to Botswana. Their bus was just involved in an accident,” officials wrote.

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