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Bus crash: Driver remembered as a 'hero,' children say

The children of the bus driver killed in the Northern California crash say their mother is being remembered as a hero.
April 19, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Jordan and Jordayna Lealao-Taiao say there wasn't a better bus driver than their mom, Tala.

"She really cared about kids, so I know she tried the best she could," said Jordan Lealao-Taiao.

She was killed along with three other adults and five students on her bus when a FedEx semi-truck slammed head-on into them as they were headed to Humbodlt State University.

Tala was killed on her son's 25th birthday.

"I could hardly get a clear message from my sister because of how bad she sounded when she called me," said Jordan.

The brother and sister say they grew up with their mom behind the wheel of a bus. The veteran driver drove their school school bus, and she's won honors for her driving record. She was also selected to drive the Jamaican bobsled team's bus in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Meantime, a community joined forces Saturday to help the family of 17-year-old Marisa Serrato, who was a senior at Norte Vista High School in Riverside. A car wash fundraiser to help pay for the funeral expenses.

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"It doesn't feel the same," said Marisa's twin sister, Marisol. "I'm used to her smile shining up my day. But I know she's still with me."

Marisol was also on the trip to see the HSU campus, but she was on a different bus because she had been put on a wait list.

Parents at the high school are banding together to help the family.

"Her twin sister Marisol is a beautiful young lady. Very well-spoken, very strong, and she's told me herself that she is going to live out her sister's dreams, so she's a strong little girl who's lost a lot, and deserves a lot," said Mia Alvarado.

Back in Sacramento, Tala's children say they take comfort in knowing survivors say she helped countless lives.

"They did speak to us that, if it wasn't for my mom, they wouldn't be here right now, and they did express to us that my mom was a hero," said Jordayna.


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