“It just hurts my heart that he didn’t make it,” said Coach Jeremiah Blackwell.
Fighting tears, Coach Blackwell mourned the unexpected death of a Memphis child he coached just three days ago 9-year-old Kameren Johnson.
“He was a hard hitter and he was going to give you 100 percent,” Coach Blackwell said. “He had a passion for it.”
But after a Texas youth football all-star game triumph, came tragedy on this Arkansas highway west of Little Rock early Monday morning.
“It felt like to me like it was one boom,” said Coach Blackwell.
The impact woke Coach Blackwell from his sleep, as he said the charter bus carrying 50 children and adults went off I-30 and fell on its left side.
“We were just trying to get out of there, trying to make sure the kids were safe,” said Coach Blackwell.
He said the impact flung him from the back to the middle of the bus and tossed children and luggage on top of other children.
“People were just screaming, but it was like real slow motion. I was just trying to find the kids that I knew,” said Coach Blackwell.
As ambulances arrived, the unsettling reality sunk in for those young and old.
“It was hard for them because they are looking at me and I’m trying to stay strong for them, it hurt me to see them hurt,” said Coach Blackwell.
That physical and emotional pain intensified, once Coach Blackwell learned at the hospital Johnson did not survive his injuries.
“It was just devastating that not everyone made it, it hurt everyone,” said Blackwell.