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January 2000
The Purpose Of This Site Is To Save One Child's Life

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IN LOVING MEMORY
Michael with his
mom Barbara
Click on picture to visit 2safeschools Memorial Directory. Don't let these lives pass unnoticed.

Michael's Death

The day that changed my life forever

A true story By Barbara Young, Virginia parent of 5-year old, Michael, who died in school bus stop incident. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted by permission. (Unedited)

Michael began school at the tender of age of five years old. I was excited that he would be in school, yet very scared of letting go. He of course was so proud to be a "big boy" going off into the world of school.

This particular morning, we were up and dressed early playing with the new kitten we had gotten the day before. We laughed as the kitten was having fun attacking Michael as he sat on the floor.

We made our daily walk to the bus stop to wait for his school bus to pick him up. Every morning a bus passed by with a little girl from Michael's class waving hysterically at him. We would joke with him about his girlfriend and he would grin ear to ear. It was very cold this morning and Michael had lost his gloves, so he stood facing me with his hands in my pockets to keep them warm. I can still remember hugging him close trying to keep him warm. He was such an affectionate little boy.

At 11:20 am, I made my usual trip to the front porch to wait on Michael's bus to bring him home. In the beginning of the year, I would walk over to the bus door take him by the hand and walk him in front of the bus to our front gate.

Michael asked one day that I not come to the door, but let him walk. Seems he was ready to show some independence, so I understood and we made a deal that I would wait on the front porch. The driver had always been good about watching him cross in front of the bus, so I felt this to be safe.

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The bus pulled up, he stepped off and turned the corner of the bus, I saw his face. He looked both ways and began to cross. He took at the most 5 steps in front of the bus, when all of sudden the bus engine started to sound and I realized she was getting ready to pull off. Michael realized it too as I watched his little face turn to the bus with a look of complete confusion. I started to run and yelled, "stop!" But she didn't hear me. I watched in shock and horror as the bus ran completely over his little body.

I ran to him in the street and all I could think was, "He has to be alive, he just has to be." I picked Michael up in my arms kneeling in the street, screaming his name over and over, hoping he would open his eyes and say, "Mama, I'm ok." I looked down into his face and just cried.

A man who was in a car behind the bus came running over and helped me lay Michael back down telling me that I shouldn't move him. I thought maybe he is still alive and I might hurt him if I move him. The ambulance finally arrived and they asked my neighbor to take me inside my home. At first I didn't want to go, but I watched them kneel down to Michael and I thought, "Maybe they want me out of the way so they can help him, I'm too hysterical and making the situation harder for them to help him."

I ran to the window and watched as they took this yellow tarp and placed it over Michael's body. My heart still not telling me he is gone. I began to yell, "What are they doing?" I begged my friend to go see, she stood there. The EMT worker came in the door, and I knew by the look on his face. He looked to the floor in a choked and breaking voice announced, "I'm sorry."

I felt my legs give out and fell to my knees thinking, "This could not be true, there has to be some mistake, he can't be gone, he was too young, too happy, too special. All he did was get off his school bus. Why?"

Michael was killed instantly I'm told and I thank God he did not suffer.

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Our schools had half day kindergarten classes, so when Michael was getting off the bus, the little neighbor girl was getting on the bus. All I can think of is the driver must have forgotten that Michael was out there after the little girl was seated.

Later, I was told by other witnesses the driver had unauthorized visitors on the bus, one being an infant who was crying and helped drown out the sounds of my screams. I was also told that she had volunteered for a field trip that day and was running late. Pressure from running late, trying to cover up her unauthorized visitors? We are human I realize, but these "little" mistakes turned into a lifetime of pain for me and my family who no longer have my son with us. Being a bus driver takes an alertness and very little "margin" for error than we realize. They have so many little lives in their hands.

Parents, be familiar with this situation. I have found this is too common, children are being hurt or killed by distractions of the bus drivers. These drivers need help. A paid adult bus aide! Most cities are not keen on that idea due to extra costs.

I share our story of our great tragedy and loss in hopes that other parents and caregivers will know that this danger exists. Until Michael's death, I had never thought about this happening. Since then, I have heard so many other stories that sound to me like a recording of myself telling of what happened to my son. That scares me to think this could happen to another child and it will unless we as parents get involved and demand to know who are driving our children and how well trained they are. More importantly, why can't these drivers have an Aide???? These drivers are supposed to drive safely, watch all the traffic PLUS handle a busload of children!

Some city buses are so overcrowded, I've heard horror stories of children having to stand and then being thrown into the floor of the bus at sudden stops! Yet in a car, parents must have their children in safety belts. Why are the bus regulations any different? City monies are always being abused for different NEEDLESS items, why can't some funding be spent towards providing more buses, safety equipment and additional bus aides to help manage the children and make sure our children are safe?

The year my son was killed, the city I live in had just installed this monstrous looking statue in our City Courthouse. I heard it cost quite a sum of money! I had to face this statue when the driver who killed my son was brought to court on charges of involuntary manslaughter which were dropped in court. The charges being dropped were acceptable to me as I know she didn't intentionally kill my son however, that statue standing in the middle of the courthouse foyer was a slap in the face to me. All that money spent on such a useless item and the continued neglect of providing more safety for our children's transportation.

Your Comments on this article - Subject: Michael (JAN 00 ATA)
Barabara's In Loving Memory Web Site, Twilight's Place
Every school bus driver should visit this site whenever apathy threatens helping to keep kids safe.
How to help keep your child's school bus safe - A short article from "In Loving Memory."
The School Bus Seat Belt Issue - An in-depth look at seat belts on the big yellow buses. Plenty of helpful links at the end of this article."
A Mother's Story - What this mom did when the school and therapy failed her out-of-control son. Excellent reading for Parents and School Staff dealing with an out-of-control teen and nothing else has worked.
A Librarianís Story - A 10-year veteran of the King County, (Washington State) Public Library resigned rather than carry out library policy of providing children with pornography.
2safeschools Connections - Take the grand tour ... over 300 teachers, classrooms and school bus drivers nationwide ready to share their web pages. You'll find a nation's worth of ideas for all grade levels in these webrings."
Marcia's Lesson Links - This site was put together especially for teachers and parents who have a hard time navigating the web"
SNET's Internet Features Page - An excellent web site for parents and teachers, features articles relevant to the home, school and the community environment.
2safeschools Awards Center - Does your web page include a safety suggestion, flyer or article. If it does, apply for your personalized 2safeschools "Helping Hand Award." No safety pages or flyers? Provide a LINK to 2safeschools free templates page or to our directory or other 2safeschools page of your choice, then apply for your award; Directory Link: http://www.delphi.com/2safeschools. Graphic links available at our Links Center.

E-Mail your story

Every person has a great school or school bus safety story, idea, war story or "something funny happened today" story. Perhaps something for the rest of us grown-ups to think about or perhaps to affirm, encourage and support other adults.

When e-mailing or mailing a story please include your name, contact address and a little about yourself. If the story is controversial and you wish to remain anonymous we can often do that, depending on the story, or not print the story until it can be verified through another source.

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