The 9-year-old was identified as Kameron Johnson, who was known by family, friends, and teammates as Kam Kam.
Johnson was in third grade at Aspire Coleman Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee.
The charter bus was carrying Johnson and other youth football players from a tournament in Texas back to Memphis when it crashed early Monday near Benton, leaving Johnson dead and 45 others injured.
“Just full of life. Full of energy. Full of potential,” Aspire Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Nickalous Manning said when asked about Kam Kam at a press conference, reported Fox 13.
“It’s hard to put into words what the future had for him. He’s definitely a young person who is near and dear to our hearts,” Manning said.
A fundraiser for Kam Kam’s family was launched on School Seed. The funds will go toward his funeral and burial expenses.
He played for the Memphis Wolfpack team, which is part of the Orange Mound Youth Association.
The organizers of the trip said it hurt to think about the death.
“It was a super fun experience and it ended in a complete tragedy,” J.T. Bragaw, director of Tipton County Crush, told Local Memphis. “Devastating, I mean, absolutely devastating. How would you feel if your adopted sons told you they were in a crash? My gut came out of my stomach.”
The bus went off the roadway while exiting I-30 and flipped over multiple times before coming to rest on its side. The driver told police officers she lost control around 2 a.m. while driving on the exit.
Damous Hailey, one of five adults on board, said that he tried to stay awake to keep an eye on the driver but he eventually fell asleep.
Next thing he knew, he heard the sound of the driver trying to keep control of the bus.
“I was sitting in the very front seat, the bus driver was over there,” Coach Hailey told WMC. “All I heard was a swerve then it started flipping. We went down one hill, over the service road, another hill.”
He said he held on to make sure he wouldn’t get thrown off the bus. When it stopped moving, he went into action.
“I was in pain, but I didn’t feel no pain because I had to try to get these kids off this bus,” Coach Hailey said. “Because I didn’t know if it was going to blow up or what, with all that flipping … I tried to get as many people as I could off that bus.”
Ty’Jier Terrell, one of the youth players on board, said that he was sleeping but woke up when something hit his head. He saw lots of people bleeding, and many screaming and/or crying. “I was scared ’cause everybody was bleeding and I had a lot of blood all over my t-shirt before I changed at the hospital,” he added.
Terrell needed 18 stitches to patch up an injury on the right side of his head.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, analyzing data from the Department of Transportation, there were 37,461 deaths from car accidents in 2016, the last year full data is available for.
The deaths occurred across 34,439 fatal motor vehicle accidents.
The number means 11.6 deaths per 100,000 people and 1.16 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, although those numbers can vary widely across states.
In Arkansas, the deaths per 100,000 population (18.2) and deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (1.51) are both in the upper edge of the states’ death rates.
The majority of fatal accidents are single-vehicle crashes, the institute noted.
From NTD News