Seventeen children were killed in school bus loading or unloading accidents in the 2008-09 school year, according to the Kansas State Department of Education’s national survey.
The total is a large increase from the previous school year, in which there were five fatalities — the lowest total on record.
Of the 17 children killed in 2008-09, 10 were struck by their own bus (seven at the back, three at the front). The other seven were killed by a passing vehicle.
Nine of the children (just over half) were above age 10, with the oldest two being 16. The other eight were under age 10, with the youngest being 2.
Twelve of the victims were male; five were female.
In one of the accidents, two students were killed by a pickup truck that struck them at their bus stop in April 2009. A police report said that the bus picking up the children had activated its lights, and traffic was stopping. But the pickup truck was reportedly approaching too fast, and it swerved to avoid cars that had stopped. The pickup went into a ditch and rolled several times before striking the children.
JaLyric Boykin, 7, died shortly after the accident. Her brother Nathan Cooks, 4, died in the hospital early the following morning. Their aunt Danielle Cooks, 14, suffered extensive injuries.
The loading/unloading report, compiled by the Kansas State Department of Education’s School Bus Safety Education Unit, is a collection of fatality accident records provided by state agencies. Onboard fatalities are not included.
The statistics have been collected since the 1970-71 school year. During that year, there were 75 danger zone fatalities, which is the highest total on record.
The report is described as an effort to alert individuals and organizations of the dangers involved in loading and unloading schoolchildren.
“Fatalities continue to occur at the bus stop, caused by a variety of circumstances and errors on the part of the school bus driver or passing motorist,” the report says. “It points out the continuing need for forceful, advanced instruction to school bus drivers and students, as well as the need to increase our efforts to thoroughly inform the driving public about the requirements of the school bus stop law.”