COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Every surviving child from the Tusky Valley bus crash Tuesday was reunited with a parent or guardian by late afternoon that day. The American Red Cross set up a reconnection center to make sure of it.
“It was a very traumatic situation and the parents that were showing up were terrified and we wanted them to feel safe and welcome as they came in and tried to reconnect with their kids,” explained Don Hawkins, the Regional Communications Manager for the American Red Cross of Central and Southern Ohio.
“It was emotional. You see a parent just walk up and they’re stoic walking up and the second they embrace their kid it was just an outpouring of emotion. No parent ever wants to think about what could happen if they ever have to part with their child. It’s a tragically terrifying situation. You could see relief. You could see exhaustion. You could see everything wash over them, and it was powerful,” Hawkins said.
The Red Cross has been responding to disasters and tragedies for decades. Having a safe place, away from the ‘noise’ of the tragic event is important for beginning to process emotions.
“It’s very important to have a safe place for them. A, for the kids that were on the bus. A place for them to just get out of the cold, get out of the public area itself and have a place to decompress and start processing what they just went through. We strive to provide a service that helps people on their worst days,” Hawkins said.
In addition to reuniting victims with their parents, the Red Cross sent an additional 30 units of blood to Mount Carmel.
“We sent 30 additional units to Mount Carmel yesterday at their request and in situations like this, we get those requests frequently whenever something pops up locally,” Hawkins said. “You never know when something like this is going to happen. Nobody planned on yesterday’s events happening. But the fact that people were giving blood in the weeks leading up to this is why that blood was on the shelf ready to go for people that were impacted by this accident.”
Gov. Mike DeWine spoke about the crash Wednesday afternoon, expressing his care and prayers for everyone involved.
“Anybody who was on that bus has been traumatized and, you know, we have to continue to pray for them but do everything we can to wrap our arms around that community,” he said.
DeWine also noted that his office is having ongoing conversations about traffic concerns on the highways of Ohio.
“The volume of traffic in central Ohio is massive and it’s going to do nothing but grow and we have to be able to stay in front of that,” he said.
As for Tuesday’s crash, an investigation into what happened to cause the crash that killed 6 and injured more than a dozen more is underway by the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the NTSB.
OSHP Superintendent Lieutenant Colonel Charles Jones said they won’t rush the investigation to find an answer.
“I can’t give you a specific timeline. The one thing I do know is that we want to make sure that we get it right,” he said.
The Ohio School Bus Safety Working Group will meet on Thursday. The group was put together by DeWine after a fatal crash involving a school bus near Springfield earlier this year.