- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 24, 2005

Investigators returned yesterday to the scene of the April 18 school bus crash that killed two children and injured 16 persons at Columbia Pike and South Court House Road in Arlington.

Authorities closed the road for several hours while investigators from the Arlington County Police Department, Virginia State Police Department and the National Transportation Safety Board looked for clues to the cause of the accident, studying everything from the condition of the road to the glare from the morning sun.

It could be more than a week before results of the investigation are released, officials said.

“There’s no time frame that [requires that] they need to get it done right away,” said Sgt. Terry Licklider, a spokesman for the Virginia State Police. “Hopefully, by the end of the week, we’ll know something, but it’s certainly not set in stone.”

Meticulously retracing the crash, Sgt. Licklider said, may help pinpoint the exact spot where the bus was hit head-on by a trash truck.

When both the Virginia State Police and the Arlington County Police investigations are complete, a report will be filed with the Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

“He will make the determination if anyone is to be criminally charged,” Sgt. Licklider said.

While investigators worked at the site yesterday, family and friends gathered for a wake to mourn the death of 7-year-old Harrison Orosco, who died Wednesday, the second victim of the school bus crash.

“He was my best friend,” said Maura Gonzalez, 6, a first-grader at the Hoffman-Boston Elementary School. “I played with him. We went to the park.”

Lilibeth Gomez, 9, also died in the crash. Her funeral was Friday in the District.

Harrison’s father, Javier Gamboa, and mother, Marisol Gonzalez, were joined by family members and friends yesterday at Advent Funeral Home in Arlington.

Earnest Zambora, 29, and three friends brought a bouquet of white tulips.

“We knew the parents,” Mr. Zambora said. “We’ve known them four, five years.”

A few minutes later, a Pennsylvania van parked nearby and Katrina and Charles Havens emerged to attend the wake.

“We’re from Philadelphia,” said Mr. Havens. “I work with the father, … tile and marble business. He’s the best guy you’ll ever meet. He’s coming to grips with [the death of his son], he says.”

Many visitors, coming and going, declined to speak to reporters. Several carried bouquets. Some carried babies and held the hands of children who would be about the same age as Harrison. One carried what appeared to be a soccer trophy, apparently in memory of the young soccer fan.

“I’m a teacher in Hoffman-Boston, a kindergarten teacher,” said Leslie Cook. “I didn’t know Harrison but I knew some of his teachers. They’re trying to keep up spirits.”

Across Lee Highway, or Washington Street as it is known in Falls Church, stood Linda Erdos, public information officer for county schools, commenting on the infrequency of such bus crashes.

“It’s never happened in our system. This is the first time,” she said.

“It’s been a difficult week,” said Arlington County Board member Walter Tejara at the wake.

Mr. Tejara announced a candlelight vigil beginning at 7 tonight at the crash scene. “The theme is ‘Children’s Safety.’ It’s the time for the community to come together.”

Harrison’s funeral is scheduled today at 11 a.m. at St. Charles Catholic Church in Arlington.

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