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Father of 5-year-old girl killed at bus stop: ‘There’s nothing worse’

BUCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. -- A father has a message to parents after his daughter and her cousin were killed while crossing the road to the school bus in Dillwyn.

"The tragedy really changes your life," Berkeley Perez said. "I hope no one ever has to go through anything like this ever."

Perez's 5-year-old daughter, Tori, and her 6-year-old cousin, Jaiden Bartee, were killed on Route 15 in Dillwyn during the morning of March 30. A tractor-trailer hauling mulch struck the children who ran into the road before their school bus stopped and displayed its red stop sign.

"There’s nothing worse than waking up to some news that they're not here anymore," Perez said.

Hundreds filled the Buckingham County High School gymnasium on Saturday afternoon for the children's joint funeral.

Ushers placed crowns into the open caskets while a choir sang, "I shall wear a crown."

“We believe once we get to heaven God is going to give us a crown," Steve Sadlin said. "It’s a symbolic gesture to do it here on the earth since they're angels, they’re sleeping and in God's care."

Crowns were placed in the caskets for the children killed in Dillwyn.

Several funeral homes and companies down the East Coast offered their vehicles and services to the families free of charge.

"We just want to be a blessing to this tragedy," Stuart Wiley said. "It's just an honor to be able to service these people during this most trying time."

Family said Tori and Jaiden were close like brother and sister and will ride to their resting place together, side by side, in one hearse.

Perez offered some advice to parents, while trying to come to terms that he has to bury his daughter.

"Just hug and kiss somebody every chance you get," he said. "If you love them hug and kiss them. You never know just like that it could be over."

Berkeley Perez opens up to CBS 6 after his daughter's death.

Anyone wishing to help the families during this difficult time can donate money to any have BB&T Bank branch in Virginia. Make donations to the "Buckingham family" fund.

A GoFundMe was started by the Helton House – where a family member works -- to assist the family with expenses. The nonprofit donated $1,000 towards the fund.