FESTUS, Mo. (KMOV/KAKE) -- The Festus community came together Wednesday night to remember a young boy killed in a tragic school bus accident.

Friends and a GoFundMe account identify the boy killed Tuesday as 6-year-old Damon Rice of Festus. He was a first grader at Plattin Primary School.

Hundreds of community members attended a candlelight vigil for Rice, coming together to mourn the loss and support the family ahead of the holidays.

"It's always going to be four days before Christmas," said Pastor Chad Smith, who helped organize the vigil. "Whether it's four days now or four days 20 years from now, so this family is in for a long haul."

Teachers, classmates and parents all said they felt the need to come together to support the family and said it speaks highly of the tight-knit community of Festus.

"First I thought it was really sad because it was very close to our house and I was worried about the parents when it happened," said Charlee Dacus.

Dacus, 11, was on her way home from school on another school bus at the time of the accident.

"On the bus, we heard some static on the radio and when I got off the bus my parents were on the couch and telling us about it," she said.

Smith said the school district plans to cover the funeral expenses and a GoFundMe was set up to benefit the family.

"I just can't imagine having to take my child's Christmas presents out from under the tree," Smith said. "But this community is strong in prayer. We will all get through this." 

 

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