Bus drop-off accidents claim 2 students

Posted on February 11, 2009

Last week, a 10-year-old in Indiana was killed after getting off a school bus in a school parking lot, and police in Virginia released findings from a similar bus drop-off accident that took the life of a 4-year-old last month.

In the Jan. 9 incident in Courtland, Va., pre-kindergartner Jameer Woodley was crossing his school’s parking lot after getting off a bus when he was struck by another bus.

An investigation by the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office uncovered the details of the accident:

Woodley’s school, Riverdale Elementary, is served by 13 buses, each of which were assigned a specific parking space in the bus port area of the school. Upon arrival, the older students were discharged from their buses to the school building, then the younger students were released.

Woodley was on Bus 980, which was parked in Spot 3. He was the last student to get off the bus.

Bus 931, which was parked in Spot 6, had completed its unloading. After receiving a signal that the area was clear, the driver pulled out of the parking space, making a right turn into the travel lane of the parking lot.

Woodley was crossing the travel lane when he was struck by the left front of Bus 931. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The police investigation was reviewed by the county attorney’s office. No criminal charges were issued.

According to The Tidewater News, Riverdale Elementary’s bus unloading procedures were changed after the accident. In a letter to parents, district Superintendent Charles Turner wrote that students would be “unloaded directly in front of the entryway at the curb during the morning, one bus at a time.”

The previous policy, Turner wrote, was to have a teacher “assigned to meet the students at each bus upon arrival at school and walk the children into the building.”

In the Indianapolis incident on Friday, fourth-grader Christopher Beltz had just gotten off Bus 42 at the Spring Mill Elementary parking lot. Between Beltz and the school building were a row of parked cars and Bus 97, which had just dropped off another student at the curb.

“When [Beltz] ran out of the bus, he darted between the parked cars,” Lt. Jeff Duhamell of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said in a news conference. “As the other bus was leaving after dropping off a student, he ran right in front of the bus.”

Beltz was pronounced dead at the scene. An investigation of the accident was ongoing.

Counselors were on hand at the school throughout the day to support students and staff.

“The loss has left us all deeply affected,” district Superintendent James Mervilde said in a statement. “Please be assured that at all levels of Washington Township schools, we are taking this tragedy extremely seriously, and your children’s safety continues to be our paramount concern.”

WTHR reported that at a safety meeting with parents on Tuesday, officials said that Spring Mill Elementary and other district schools would implement a policy of having buses drop off students only at the curb.


Related Topics: fatalities, school site safety

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