DERMOTT, Ark. – Two days after 5 were killed in a Chicot County bus crash, the families of the victims are still coming to terms with their loss and are remembering their loved ones gone too soon.
At the site of the accident just west of Dermott, a memorial has been set up: crosses with flowers in a variety of colors and a marker bearing the names of all 5 of the victims, killed when their C. B. King school bus collided with an 18-wheeler as it attempted to cross U.S.-65.
One of those names is 19-year-old Brayshawn Ransom, the youngest killed.
Mom Jacquelyn Stephens remembers her son as a kind and loving teenager, newly graduated and ready to start his life.
“He was a good kid,” she said. “He loved his nieces and nephews, and he was kind to everybody.”
She says he was a drummer in the school band, an avid basketball player, and a hopeful truck driver – the same career as his uncle.
Now, Brayshawn’s family has gathered in Dermott to make final arrangements and remember the vibrant and loving life of the family’s baby – killed just over a mile from home.
Stephens remembers the day it happened.
“I was here at home waiting on him to come home, get off the school bus,” Stephens explained, wiping away tears. “But he never did.”
When they first heard about the massive accident at the intersection of 35 and 65, Stephens and family quickly located her nephew at a local hospital who was also on the bus when it crashed. He survived with injuries – but Brayshawn was nowhere to be seen.
“We knew some [victims] got dispersed everywhere,” Earl Stephens said, Brayshawn’s uncle, “but we didn’t know where he was, and it was driving us crazy.”
It took hours to get an answer, with family members searching hospitals in Dumas, Lake Village, and McGhee only to receive the worst news possible – the loving and happy teenager with big dreams had been pronounced dead at the scene.
“It’s just a hard thing to take in” said Evelyn Wimbley, Brayshawn’s great aunt.
Now, they’re telling Brayshawn’s story to remember his life – and share one last message from the bright spark of a young man: follow your dreams and take care of your family.