Frantic parents rush to school for word on children after NJ school bus crash

PARAMUS, New Jersey (WABC) -- Soon after Thursday's school bus crash in New Jersey, frantic parents raced to East Brook Middle School in Paramus for any news on their children.

"My friends actually called me and asked if she was OK and I said 'what do you mean, she's on a trip, why would she not be ok'", one parent said. "And then they informed me that there was a horrific accident."

"I get a text message from my brother, 'is Austin on a field trip today?', and I lost it and just came running here," said parent Kathy Lafaso.

11-year-old Austin Lafaso was on one of the buses that didn't crash and made it all the way to the field trip destination, Waterloo Village in Stanhope, before they turned around and headed back.

"When I came back people were talking about it," he said. "It's scary."

"When I found out he wasn't on that bus of course you're feeling relieved but I know all his classmates and my heart goes out," Kathy Lafaso said. "It's like they're one of mine."

At first there was little news as parents clung to each other and waited. It wasn't until two of the three buses returned that parents knew who among their kids was safe and who was not.

Thuy Nguyen, a nurse from Paramus, said she rushed to the school, where her son was taking a test, after hearing the news.

"My heart just dropped. You hear the name of the school ... ," she said before trailing off.

Paramus schools superintendent Michele Robinson said the district was cancelling school trips for the rest of the year.

The school community is reeling. "For those of you that have loved ones, you go home and say how much you love them and give them a kiss," said Bergen County Executive James Tedesco. "There are people tonight that are struggling to be able to do that."

The Paramus School District released a statement that read in part:
"We would like to thank the Paramus Community for their support during this very difficult time. Our hearts go out to the families of our students, staff and community members. We also thank the first responders who did a tremendous job. All Paramus Public Schools will remain open Friday, May 18th. Crisis counselors will be present in each building to assist the children and staff."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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