School bus tragedies across the U.S. claiming the lives of five children and injuring seven others has placed an overwhelming spotlight on school bus stop safety, pedestrian safety, and distracted driving.
According to a report by CNN, parents often worry about placing their children in the hands of a school bus driver, but it is walking to the bus stop and standing at the bus stop that are – statistically – more dangerous.
This past week, traffic accidents involving children in Indiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Pennsylvania have parents, bus drivers, and entire communities up in arms about bus stop safety.
According to the Chicago Tribune, bus drivers across Indiana experienced a multitude of emotions after a tragedy claimed the live of three siblings. Nancy Perez, who drives a school bus for Lake Central School Corp. in Indiana, explained to the Chicago Tribune why bus drivers in these situations should also be viewed as victims.
“I include the bus driver among the victims because he or she will forever have to live with the consequences of giving that group of students the signal that it was OK to cross the road on that dark morning,” she explained.
The Chicago Tribune added every local bus driver they spoke to agreed that the bus driver involved in the tragedy will likely replay the incident every day in their head and wonder if they could have done something different to prevent it from happening.
Tuesday, October 30
On Tuesday, October 30, 9-year-old Alivia Stahl and her twin 6-year-old brothers, Mason and Xzavier Ingle, were crossing the street to get on their bus when they were struck by a pickup truck. The children’s uncle told WRTV that Alivia held on to her brothers’ hands in an attempt to shield them from the oncoming vehicle. Alivia and her brothers were killed. A fourth child, unrelated to the other three, was airlifted to a nearby hospital.
Alyssa Shepherd, the 24-year-old driver, was charged with three counts felony reckless homicide in addition to the misdemeanor for disregarding the school bus stop sign. She was arrested and later released on a $15,000 bond.
Wednesday, October 31
According to WTVA, a 9-year-old named Dalen Thomas was struck and killed in Tupelo, Mississippi, while crossing the street to board his school bus. The 22-year-old driver – identified as Hunter Newman – was charged with aggravated assault. He was arrested with a bond of $10,000. Dalen was rushed to the hospital after the accident where he later died of his injuries.
In Tallahassee, Florida, a kindergartner was injured while crossing the street to board the bus. According to a report by WCTV, the driver didn’t notice the extended stop sign arm until it was too late for him to stop. The 19-year-old driver received multiple traffic citations. The parents have confirmed the 5-year-old is back at home and doing well.
Thursday, November 1
A 7-year-old was found dead at his bus stop in Tyrone County, Pennsylvania, by a bus driver on route.
“The bus driver on route arrived at the stop discovering the situation, contacted 911 and remained at the scene until first responders arrived,” Tyrone Area School District Superintendent Cathy Harlow said in a statement on Facebook.
According to ABC News, the driver believed to be responsible struck the boy at an incredibly slow speed and did not appear to be aware he had even hit the child. The driver’s identity has not been revealed at this time.
It’s been a deadly week for kids at the bus stop and we can’t stress this point enough - Young lives depend on you to drive safely. Always watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops. Visit our website to review school bus safety laws. https://t.co/pmyqFfkjKg pic.twitter.com/nV1Mg0p6ix— NHTSA (@NHTSAgov) November 2, 2018
Five children and two adults were taken to the hospital in Tampa, Florida, after being struck by a car while heading to the bus stop. According to WFLA 8, the driver remained at the scene and was not charged – or identified. Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan described the scene as “chaotic,” as investigators were still trying to figure out what happened.
The string of bus stop tragedies has had many taking to social media wanting to know what was being done to protect children at bus stops moving forward.