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Funeral held for girl killed in NJ school bus crash

CLIFTON, N.J. — Funeral services were held Monday for a student killed when a school bus on a field trip collided with a dump truck in New Jersey last week.

The service for fifth-grader Miranda Vargas was held at the Marrocco Memorial Chapel in Clifton.

Vargas, 10, and teacher Jennifer Williamson, 51, died in the crash last Thursday. More than 40 others were injured.

"It's been a horrible experience, losing my niece and my brother's daughter," her uncle, Carlos Argueyes told reporters outside the chapel. "And her twin being without her sister now has been very tough."

He said Vargas' twin sister is "trying to hold on as strong as possible. She breaks down but then she gets back up when she sees her friend."

Classmates, some still bruised from the wreck, attended the service to honor the 10-year-old.

"(Miranda) was very sweet, she was nice to everyone and she was always smiling and laughing," her classmate Tiana Holeviczki said.

In a moving obituary published over the weekend, Vargas' family bid farewell to their daughter, writing, "To our princess, we know that an angel was needed and you were it."

The bus Vargas and Williamson were traveling on was one of three buses taking students from East Brook Middle School in Paramus to Waterloo Village, a historic site depicting a Lenape Indian community and once-thriving port. The other buses made it to the site but returned to the school following the crash that left the bus lying on its side on the guardrail of Interstate 80 in Mount Olive.

Most of the injured people from the bus had been discharged from hospitals by Friday, but officials have declined to provide details about the types and severity of the injuries they suffered. They also haven't detailed what injuries the truck driver suffered.

Hundreds attended a community memorial service Sunday night. Attendees included some of the students injured in the crash.

A funeral Mass for the teacher killed in the crash is scheduled for Wednesday.