Paramus boy doesn’t know his teacher is dead, gets visit from a hero
PARAMUS — One of the fifth-graders severely injured in the horrific Route 80 bus crash that killed a classmate and a teacher received well wishes in the form of a hockey stick from his favorite hockey player and a visit from a New York Jet.
They were moments of joy for Brendan O' Callaghan, an 11-year-old boy whose life was turned upside down in an instant on Thursday, when his school bus was hit by a dump truck, injuring 43 students and chaperones on board. Student Miranda Vargas and teacher Jennifer Williamson died in the crash. A traffic cam showed the bus rapidly crossing three lanes and trying to make an illegal U-turn when it was struck, officials have told New Jersey 101.5.
"He was pretty banged up," the boy's dad, Arnie O'Callaghan, told New Jersey 101.5. "He goes for surgery (Tuesday) and then some rehabilitation. I'm just thankful he's alive. It's a roller coaster of emotions from the day I got the call to now. My heart is bleeding for all these kids."
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Brendan is one of the few kids still hospitalized, with a fractured temple bone on both sides, a punctured lung and a broken collarbone, according to his father. His nose will have to be reconstructed.
He said the staff at Morristown Medical Center has been "great" to everyone and brought New York Jet Avery Williamson to visit with the kids. The Jets use a practice facility in nearby Florham Park.
Arnie O' Callaghan posted video on his Facebook page of his wife Jackie unwrapping a stick autographed by Henrik Lundqvist for Brendan. Sitting on the edge of his bed wrapped in a blanket with a bandage on his ankle and a bruise under his left eye, Brendan tries to smile as his mom hands him the stick.
"He's still in shock. ... It's all a blur to him. If he really can comprehend he got a stick from Hendrick Lundqvist, I'm sure he would have been doing cartwheels," Arnie O'Callaghan said.
His son developed a love of hockey later than his peers, and followed in his dad's footsteps as a Rangers fan. Like Lundqvist, he's a goalie.
Williamson was Brendan's favorite teacher, and he is not yet aware of her death. He also doesn't remember the details of the crash, his dad said.
"I spoke to her family members last night and they knew about Brendan and the love she showed for all the kids. They had a special bond," Arnie O'Callaghan said. He's also close to one of the girls still in critical condition.
Arnie O'Callaghan is also looking out for the well being of his 8-year-old daughter, who he described as a "ball of sunshine" through the ordeal. He's been spending time with his daughter while wife Jackie stays bedside with Brendan.
John Rosasco, the Rangers’ senior vice president of public relations, told New Jersey 101.5 one of the team doctors told him about Brendan. The team plans to do more to help Brendan in his recovery once he's up for it, according to Rosasco.
The Morris County Prosecutor's Office on Monday would not disclose the conditions of any of the adults or children injured.
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