Classmates, Houston Community Remember Students Killed In Bus Crash with Memorial, Fundraising

One online fundraising campaign has already surpassed its goal.

Dozens of Teddy bears and balloons make up the memorial site
Dozens of Teddy bears and balloons make up the on-site memorial site at the 610 Loop and Telephone Road.
Students and residents across the city are remembering the two students who were killed in the Houston Independent School District's worst bus accident in more than a decade.

At Furr High School Wednesday morning, students held a private memorial on campus for two of their classmates: Janiecia Chatman, a 14-year-old freshman, and Mariya Johnson, 17, who attended REACH, a drop out recovery program at Furr.

They both died when their HISD school bus fell off a freeway on the way to school.

Students filled boxes with handwritten letters and notes to their families.

While the students' memorial was private, the outpouring of support for their families has been very public.

Mementos and flowers have been left near the crash site at South Loop 610 and Telephone Road, and at least two online fundraising campaigns have started.

Bridget Thomas is the education director at the Forge for Families, a Christian ministry in Third Ward.

She said that the families are "just overwhelmed with gratitude."

Thomas said that Janiecia participated in their mentoring program, which helped her enroll at Furr where she was learning Russian. She said that the surviving students — twins Brandon and Lakeshia Williams — also participated in the mentoring program.

go fund me screenshot
Forge for Families, a Christian ministry in Third Ward, started the fundraising account for Janecia Chatman.
The ministry started fundraising online for Janiecia's family. It's already surpassed the goal of $20,000.

Thomas said the family is "overwhelmed with the community and people that they don't know coming alongside them and caring enough in prayer and thought and financially — they're overwhelmed."

She added that the students were excited “to be able to be at a school that was going to help them achieve some of their goals of simply graduating high school and then looking forward to possibly going into college — So excited about life, teachable, desiring the best for their lives.”

Another fundraising campaign has been set up for all four students involved in the crash.

It's meant to cover medical and funeral expenses as well as counseling.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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