Police: Driver in deadly church bus crash near Atlanta to face homicide charges

ATLANTA (NBC) – Fulton County Police confirm that the bus driver in last week’s fatal bus crash will face homicide charges.

On Thursday, a bus headed from Mount Zion Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala. was on its way to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport when it crashed along Camp Creek Parkway near Merk Road.

Investigators said preliminary information reveals the bus driver attempted to change lanes when it collided with a Chrysler already in that lane. That’s when the driver tried to overcorrect and lost control. The bus entered the median, rolled over and slid into a Mercedes traveling in the opposite direction.

According to Fulton County Police, the driver is still in the hospital and has not been interviewed yet. He has been charged with Homicide by Vehicle in the Second Degree and Failure to Maintain Lane. The NTSB is still investigating the crash.

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ATLANTA (AP) – The Latest on the crash of a church bus in Georgia (all times local):

11:45 a.m.

Georgia authorities say the deadly crash of a church bus began when the driver attempted to change lanes and collided with another vehicle.

Fulton County Police said in a news release that the driver then steered to the left, lost control and the bus crossed over an uneven median and rolled over. The bus slid into a car traveling on the westbound side of the four-lane road.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office previously identified the person killed as 17-year-old Sarah Harmening of Huntsville, Alabama.

Police say she died at the scene.

The 37 other people in the van were taken to area hospitals for a variety of injuries, along with three other people in the other vehicles. Authorities say they don’t believe any of those injuries are life-threatening.

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10:30 a.m.

After some confusion over who is investigating the deadly crash of a church van near Atlanta’s airport, Fulton County police now say they are handling the probe. Fulton County police spokeswoman Partrena Smith had said that the NTSB would investigate the crash, but on Friday she clarified that county police would handle it.

She says the county is preparing to release an update on the wreck.

Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that the agency is not investigating the crash.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office says 17-year-old Sarah Harmening of Huntsville, Alabama, was killed in the crash. Several others were injured.

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In this image made from video by WSB-TV Atlanta, authorities render assistance to injured people on an overturned church bus, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Atlanta. Mount Zion Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., posted on its Facebook page that one of its buses with its student ministry mission was involved in a crash while traveling to the airport. (WSB-TV via AP)

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9:10 a.m.

Before she died in a bus crash outside Atlanta, an Alabama teen wrote in her journal that God had called her to a mission trip in Africa for a reason. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that 17-year-old Sarah Harmening’s mother, Karen, fought through tears as she read her daughter’s final journal entry.

Sarah was killed Thursday afternoon when a church bus carrying a group of young people prepared for the mission trip crashed. Police said the Mount Zion Baptist Church bus from Huntsville was headed to the airport when it collided with another vehicle on a four-lane road. In her journal, Sarah wrote that she was being reminded of why she was on her way to Africa, that “God called me here” for a reason. Her entry concluded: “So I know he’s going to do incredible things.”

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8:05 a.m.

Authorities have confirmed the name of a teenage girl killed when a church bus carrying Alabama high school students crashed near Atlanta as the group prepared to embark on a mission trip to Africa.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office early Friday said 17-year-old Sarah Harmening of Huntsville, Alabama, was killed in the crash. At least 10 others were injured. Police said the Mount Zion Baptist Church bus from Huntsville was headed to the airport Thursday afternoon when it collided with another vehicle on a four-lane road. Television images from the scene showed the bus on its roof and another car underneath it.

The church asked people for prayers on its Facebook page.

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5:30 a.m.

Authorities say a church bus carrying Alabama high school students on their way to a mission trip in Africa crashed near Atlanta, killing one person and injuring several others. Fulton County Police Cpl. Partrena Smith said the Mount Zion Baptist Church bus from Huntsville, Alabama, was headed to the airport Thursday afternoon when it collided with another vehicle on a four-lane road. Dozens of high school students and adults were on board. Images from the scene showed the bus on its roof and another car underneath it. The parkway where the crash occurred was completely closed and firetrucks and ambulances swarmed the area near Atlanta’s airport.

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ATLANTA (AP) – Authorities say a church bus carrying Alabama high school students on their way to a mission trip in Africa crashed near Atlanta, killing one person and injuring several others.

Fulton County Police Cpl. Partrena Smith said the Mount Zion Baptist Church bus from Huntsville, Alabama, was headed to the airport Thursday afternoon when it collided with another vehicle on a four-lane road. Dozens of high school students and adults were on board.

Images from the scene showed the bus on its roof and another car underneath it. The parkway where the crash occurred was completely closed and firetrucks and ambulances swarmed the area near Atlanta’s airport.

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