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'She was sunshine in the rain' | Arlana Haynes' family speaks at news conference

In an emotional press conference Thursday, Arlana Haynes' family thanked law enforcement for the help they gave their daughter after she was critically injured in a Houston County bus crash on January 29.

6-year-old Arlana died hours later despite the efforts of surgeons and first responders to keep her alive.

The news conference began with a prayer by Arlana’s grandfather --Bishop Sammie Haynes.

Following the prayer, the family’s lawyer -- Teddy Reese with the Reese Law Firm -- went through her parents’ version of events.

Reese began on the evening of the crash, Jan. 29, and described how Arlana’s mother, Angelica Rose, was waiting for her daughter to come home from Parkwood Elementary around 4:25 p.m.

After her daughter didn’t arrive home, Rose called the school twice and didn’t get an answer.

She then called the school’s transportation office and was told there had been a bus accident, and that she needed to go to Westside Elementary.

Once she got to Westside, she was pulled aside into a private meeting where she was told her daughter had been injured in the accident and was in surgery.

Shortly after 6 p.m., Arlana’s father, Christopher, went to the hospital and was met by doctors who told him that his daughter was in bad condition.

Two hours later, three surgeons spoke to Haynes’ parents and told them her skull was fractured, her legs had been severed and there was no blood flow, so they had to amputate her legs.

Arlana also sustained kidney and bladder injuries, as well as intestinal injuries.

“A lot of her body parts were damaged beyond repair. Ultimately, her body was amputated up to her navel area. When her parents got a last opportunity to see her, as her father was holding her hand while she took her last breath, he was looking at her in that condition,” said Reese. “Arlana went through a lot that day and that night. At 1:09 a.m., she transitioned, but Arlana had a lot of heroes around her. She had a lot of people praying for her, and a lot of people there to support her.”

One by one, each of the responding officers was called up by Warner Robins Police Chief Brett Evans and thanked for being Arlana’s ‘angels and heroes.’

They are:

Sgt. Porter Wood
Officer Karmen Thompson
Officer Chris Fussell
Investigator Keenan Henderson
Officer Josh Wilcox
Investigator David Adriance
Officer Tim Pippio
Sgt. Randy Evans
Officer Chris Davis
Officer Josh Dokes

DPS-Motor Carrier Compliance Division
Bryan Renner
Richard DiPolo

Mayor Randy Toms then spoke to thank law enforcement for their service to the city and its people.

“We hurt when our citizens hurt, and we want you to know that as families, our hearts go out to you. We love you and we want to do everything we can to help you through this. Thank you and God bless you,” said Toms.

Near the end of the press conference, her parents were asked how they’d remember their daughter.

They described her as being a friendly child who would hand out hugs to random stranger in Walmart, and her mother shared a memory of Arlana dancing to make her mother smile just days before the accident.

Now, the family wants Arlana’s death to inspired conversation about school bus safety – including whether young kids should wear seat belts while riding to and from school.

At this time, the cause of the accident has not been released and school district spokeswoman Beth McLaughlin said the district would have no comment on Thursday’s press conference.

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