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Family, friends gather at vigil for 10-year-old killed in NJ school bus crash

CLIFTON, N.J. — Family and friends gathered Sunday to say goodbye to the 10-year-old girl killed in a New Jersey school bus crash last week.

Mourners showed up by the dozens, first at the funeral home, then at a vigil,  for Miranda Vargas.

Vargas, described by her family on a GoFundMe page as a “beautiful, gentle soul,” was with her East Brook Middle School fifth grade class on a field trip when their school bus collided with a dump truck.

It was a mix of people who knew Miranda, and others who saw those horrible images of the mangled school bus and felt compelled to come out.

Among the many who made there way to Our Lady the Visitation church Sunday night was 11-year-old Tiana Holeviczki.

She was pinned inside the bus and had to be rescued by a firefighter, and she also knew Miranda.

"She was very sweet and nice to everyone," Holeviczki said. "She was always smiling and laughing."

The school bus overturned and was ripped apart, landing on Route 80’s center median, officials said.

Forty-five people, including 38 students were on the bus heading to Waterloo Village. Forty-three people from the bus and the truck driver were hospitalized.

A teacher, 51-year-old Jennifer Williamson, was also killed in the crash.

Miranda's twin sister was on another bus headed to the same field trip.

Clutching a picture of his niece, Miranda, Carlos Argueyes held back tears when talking about her twin sister.

"She is trying to hold on as best as possible," Argueyes said. "She breaks down, but she gets uplifted when she sees her friend or we comfort her."

Authorities are investigating whether or not the bus driver was making an illegal U-turn on the highway, sources said.

Jacob Arroyo, who still has friends in critical condition inside the hospital, is upset about the possible illegal U-turn.

"I wanted to be here to support my friends — most of them are still in the hospital," Arroyo said. "And this could have been avoided — this should not have happened."

Miranda's funeral is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday, at Marrocco Memorial Chapel in Clifton.