BIGFORK, Mont. — A school district here has equipped its school buses with extended stop arms after a student in a nearby district was struck and severely injured by a car while she was exiting her bus.
On Nov. 12 at approximately 4:44 p.m., as students got off their school bus at a designated stop on Highway 93 just west of Whitefish, Jordana Hubble, 6, was hit by a vehicle. The motorist failed to stop for the bus, which had its stop arm extended and red warning lights activated, Olney-Bissell School District #58, where Hubble is a student, stated in a news release posted on its Facebook page.
The motorist was driving 25 mph, Montana Highway Patrol Captain Chad Dever told KPAX. Charges were pending at the time of the crash and the motorist was not arrested.
Hubble was hospitalized and received treatment for a traumatic brain injury she sustained during the crash, according to a post on the Olney Fire & Ambulance Facebook page on Nov. 14. (The fire department also raised funds from the community to help Hubble and her family.) She continues to recover and was recently admitted to a coma emergence program in Houston, Texas, ABC Fox Montana reports.
Meanwhile, Bigfork School District 38, which is located about 70 miles southeast of Olney-Bissell School District #58, was prompted by the crash to add extended stop arms to its school buses.
“The incident in Olney did bring the issue to focus for us to make a decision, and we didn't hesitate to move forward,” Rob Tracy, the transportation director for Bigfork School District 38, told School Bus Fleet.
Over the district’s Christmas break, the transportation department installed 10 extended stop arms — one on each of its eight route buses and on each of its two spare buses — from Bus Safety Solutions.
However, the transportation department was working to combat stop-arm running before the crash that injured Hubble, Tracy said. The installation of the extended stop arms is the result of a pilot program that the department began in September 2018. After experiencing several illegal passing incidents on one route, Tracy installed the extended stop arm on the bus driving that route. Since then, the bus driver on that route has only experienced one stop-arm running incident, Tracy told Bigfork Eagle.
Tracy also said that the district had initially mounted cameras on its school buses to capture images of motorists violating stop arms, according to the newspaper. The video footage enabled them to identify the make and model of the vehicle involved in the violation, but the cameras were unable to clearly capture the license plate, he said. Then, bus monitor Kathy Standley conducted research, Tracy told the newspaper, and came across the extended stop arm that the transportation department ended up using.
View a photo of Hubble at Nexus Children’s Hospital in Houston, shared on the Olney Fire & Ambulance Facebook page, below.