SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Friends and faculty gathered at Dorsey High School Wednesday for a vigil to honor a 17-year-old girl who died last week in a bus crash in Northern California.
Jennifer Bonilla was one of 10 people who were killed last Thursday when a FedEx big rig slammed into a tour bus in Orland.
CBS2’s Jeff Nguyen reported that a slideshow presentation about Bonilla was shown in the school’s auditorium. Then, teachers, family and friends moved to the quad area to speak about the student with the infectious smile.
“Her smile, you could just imagine her smile, and you would smile along with her. You might not know why she was laughing…but you would laugh with her. She would pretty much create an echo. She smiled, you smiled,” sister Nancy Bonilla said.
“I want to come and support, you know? It’s one thing they teach us is to have integrity and equality, so for a lot of students, it’s an opportunity to reach out, not just our school and show our school pride, but show dedication to the ones we’ve lost,” friend Ashton Chavies said.
Toni Bryant said she met Bonilla when she was lost on campus and looking for a friend.
“She’s like, ‘I think she’s there at practice.’ And I was like, ‘Thank you.’ She walked me over to where she was,” Bryant said.
Students said there was a lot of tension on campus last Friday after news of the bus collision spread. At the time, Bonilla was reported missing and teachers were on the phone, trying to figure out where she was.
“It was really a priority that Friday. Really the priority of the school day to find her,” friend Ariez Willis said.
Kids who grew up in the Crenshaw district said life is often filled with challenges, so Bonilla’s death is even more tragic because she had been admitted to college.
“That’s the worst part, knowing she was going to make it and do something with herself. All her work was going to mean something and now she’s gone,” Willis said.