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Bus Crash: Student Died Helping Others Get out, School Says

Ismael Jimenez busted open a window at the front of the bus as it was filling with smoke.

Twitter photo of the bus burned in a crash in Orland last week, where 10 people died, including five students.
Twitter photo of the bus burned in a crash in Orland last week, where 10 people died, including five students.

An Inglewood high school student who was one of 10 people who died in a crash between a tour bus and FedEx truck in Northern California was being remembered today as a hero for helping fellow students out of the burning bus.

Ismael Jimenez, 18, and fellow Inglewood Animo Charter High School senior Denise Gomez, 18, both died in Thursday night's fiery crash in Orland while they were en route to Humboldt State University for a campus tour.

Marco Petruzzi, CEO of Green Dot Public Schools, said another Animo student on the trip "returned home last Friday and related to our staff how Ismael busted open a window at the front of the bus as it was filling with smoke and people were getting burned."

"He started lifting kids out in an effort to save them," Petruzzi said. "Ismael will be remembered as someone who forever affected the lives of young people he barely knew. He was indeed a hero."

Jimenez and Gomez both would have been the first members of their families to go to college, he said.

"Ismael was a talented young man who had a passion for art and was deeply committed to pursuing a career in art after college," Petruzzi said. "In 10th grade, Ismael was accepted into the Ryman Arts Program at Otis College of Art and Design, which he later described as a life-changing experience. He was the first student accepted from Amino Inglewood since 2005."

Gomez was a member of the girls' varsity soccer team and editor of the school yearbook.

"She loved the progress that came with hard work, and was determined to go to college to open new pathways for herself and her family," Petruzzi said. "Denise was an exemplary young lady who valued her opportunities and appreciated those who helped her along the way. Her teachers, peers and family could always depend on her, and moreover everyone respected and loved her. She will always be remembered as an example to us of a model student and friend."

Websites have been set up to help each family cover funeral expenses. For Gomez, the website is at www.gofundme.com/8agcn8, and for Jimenez, the website is www.gofundme.com/8ae4j4.

--City News Service


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