Lafayette High raises money for crash victims' family

LAFAYETTE, LA (WAFB) - A high school in Lafayette received loads of support from their community as they tried to raise funds for the families of the four people who were killed in a crash with a school bus last week in Centerville, La.

The students and faculty of Lafayette High School had a tough and somber week after the incident that claimed the lives of four victims, including three children. But the results of a school fundraiser for the victims' families were uplifting.

The school hoped to raise $2,000 for the family members, but before lunchtime, they did more than reach their goal. A total sum of $9,000 was reached, and the day was not yet over.

The money came from people from all over the area; many complete strangers who simply empathized with the tragic situation.

You can hear from these givers tonight on 9News at 10 p.m. this evening.

A vigil was held on Monday, February 17th in the field behind Patterson Junior High School in Patterson, LA at 5:30 p.m.

The crash happened on US 90 near LA 317 in Centerville around noon. The victims who died were identified as Ladonna Cheatham, 36; Marcus Cheatham, 16; Dwayne Escort, 14; and Destiny Cheatham, 6. They were pronounced dead at the scene by the St. Mary Parish coroner.

Ladonna Cheatham, who was driving a 2004 Kia Sorrento, was from Patterson. Louisiana State Police did not specify where the younger victims were from. Investigators said none of them had on seatbelts and they were all thrown from the vehicle.

A fifth person and only survivor in the SUV, Mark Cheatham, 17, was properly restrained and suffered moderate injuries in the crash.

Tpr. Stephen Hammons said the school bus was carrying 30 members of the Lafayette High School baseball team and six adults, including the driver. He reported "the left rear tire on Cheatham's vehicle failed" and veered off the left side of the road, crossed the median and slammed into the school bus.

One of the adults on the bus, Cody Ortego, 23, of Lafayette, was taken to the hospital with moderate injuries. Seven students went to the hospital with minor injuries.

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