'It feels like a nightmare’: Family remembers mother killed in bus crash one year later

Family remembers mother killed in bus crash one year later

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The family of Betty Jo Russell remembered her by releasing balloons at her grave site Thursday. One year ago, Russell was one of two killed in a bus crash in Tunica, Mississippi.

The bus was traveling from Huntsville to Fitz-Tunica Casino when it overturned on an icy highway.

Russell’s three daughters gathered at her Decatur grave to release messages of love and send a reminder with each balloon to Betty Jo that she will never be forgotten.

“There are so many great memories that I have with my mom. She was so amazing, so amazing," expressed her daughter Tina Mosley. "We miss her so much. Our whole word is just empty.”

The bus, which left from Huntsville, had 46 people on board. The crash happened around 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 14, 2018 along I-269.

Russell and another woman, 61-year-old Cynthia Hardin, died in the crash. According to Hardin’s obituary by Royal Funeral Home, she graduated from J-O Johnson High School, and went to Alabama A&M University. Her family and friends called her “sister” and describe her as courageous, and a fighter.

Several lawsuits were filed citing the bus company was operating buses with a known history of “out of service defects.”

“We didn’t get a chance to say bye to our mom. We didn’t get a chance to go to the hospital or take turns visiting our mom. We didn’t get a chance to do anything of that," said Russell’s daughter Felecia Sykes.

To get through the tough days, the family says they will love on each other now more than ever.

“No one will be able to fulfill your shoes," said an emotional Mosley. “You were the best mother that any person could ever hope for.”

Will League, a Huntsville-based attorney, represents several victims in a lawsuit against the “Teague VIP Express,” the bus company that chartered the group to the Mississippi. League says no settlement has been reached, but there will be a multi-million dollar resolution.

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