Families begin to identify victims of deadly Chattanooga bus crash

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Family members began identifying the children who died in a tragic Chattanooga school bus crash on Monday.

The bus was carrying 37 kids from Woodmore Elementary School between kindergarten and fifth grade at the time of the accident, and five of them were killed.

Dr. Kirk Kelly, the interim superintendent of Hamilton County Schools, confirmed the deaths on Tuesday and said three of the children were in the fourth grade, one was in first grade, and another in kindergarten.

The family of Cordayja Jones, 9, confirmed she was one of those victims. She was a fourth grader and would have turned 10 in three weeks.

Cordayja Jones (Courtesy: The Jones family)
Cordayja Jones (Courtesy: The Jones family)

“I thought it was a nightmare, you know. Wake me up. Then to get there and sit that long of time and they don’t tell you anything I mean, it was wild. It was unreal,” her aunt, Tonya Ballard, told News 2.

Monica Mastin, cousin

“… You had a brother and a sister, two kids that died in the crash, too. You can just imagine how horrible that is for their mother to have two kids to go through with this tragic thing,” said cousin Monica Mastin.

“She loved God and she knew God, so we know he has another angel,” Mastin added.

The family also says she had a smile that could light up a room.

“That smile. She’s always smiling, always smiling, always smiling. I know she’s in heaven right now smiling, so we’re good. It’s going to be alright,” said another cousin, Edward Stoutemire.

Another victim identified by his family is 6-year-old D-Myunn Brown, a first grade student. His great-grandparents, Robert and Wilfred Bray, told News 2 he was a shy boy who opened up once he got to know people.

Robert could hardly speak. Just thinking about the first grader’s short life was too much. He said it’s hard for him sleep because every time he closes his eyes, images of D’Myunn appear.

D'Myunn Brown (Courtesy: The Bray family)
D’Myunn Brown (Courtesy: The Bray family)

“I just see him, you know, take a look at the time I spent with him… how playful and how happy he was,” Robert told News 2.

“He was a sweet baby, precious little kid,” Wildfred said, later adding, “They had the whole world head of them. We don’t know what they could’ve been. They never had a chance.”

The family says they feel for all the other families who lost children and even those who were injured.

As emotional and horrible a tragedy this is, one thing is for certain, the Chattanooga community is as strong as ever.

“It’s very emotional for me. So it’s going to be rough,” Robert added.

The remaining three students have yet to be identified.

News 2 will continue to update this report once additional names are released. Refresh this page for updates.

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