Teen killed in church bus crash: ‘She loved the Lord’

ATLANTA -- A teenager killed Thursday in a church bus crash just outside Atlanta has been identified by her family as 17-year-old Sarah Harmening from Huntsville, Alabama.

She and nearly 40 people from Huntsville's Mount Zion Baptist Church were aboard a bus headed to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Sarah's mother Karen Harmening told reporters.

The group, mostly members of a student ministry mission, was traveling to the African nation of Botswana on a 10-day missionary trip, church spokesman Frank Rucker said.

The Fulton County Police Department released a statement on the incident Friday morning, saying a lane change mistake caused the crash:

"The bus was in lane 1 and attempted to change lanes over to lane 2 when it collided with the Chrysler that was already in lane 2.  The initial collision caused the bus driver to steer to the left abruptly causing him to lose control.  The bus then entered the uneven median and rolled over.  The upside down bus then slid into the Mercedes that was traveling in the westbound lanes.

One passenger in the bus was pronounced dead at the scene. The father of the deceased was at the scene and notification was made to him.  All of the 37 other occupants of the bus sustained injuries and were transported to area hospitals."

During a news conference, Karen and Scott Harmening revealed Sarah's final journal entries, WHNT reports.

"I was just sitting here on the bus feeling a little sad. I guess because I'm going to be gone so long, and I was a little uncomfortable. But I decided to read my Bible. I prayed, and opened up to 1 Peter 5 and 2 Peter 1."

She continued,

"I was just reminded of why I am here, and that God has called me here and has done this for a reason. I know he is going to do incredible things."

"Our daughter Sarah was a gift to us," Karen Harmening. "She loved the Lord with a love that was tangible."