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

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IN LOVING MEMORY
Brittany Locklear, 5
Abducted from her school bus stop
- January 7, 1998 -
sexually abused, then drowned in ditch. Murderer is still at large.

Click on picture to visit 2safeschools Memorial. Don't let these lives pass unnoticed.

New millennium greets school bus driver with bullet

Random act of a stranger changed her life

In many parts of the country school bus drivers, as a matter of course and career, live on the "pay check to pay check" financial edge. The so-called part time job demands full time attention, often for poor pay and nearly as often with few or no benefits. This story is about a new school bus driver, who, while in the midst of the new year's celebration, glad to be alive and glad to have a new job, was suddenly pushed over a financial cliff.

First published by The Virginian-Pilot, original story title, "Wayward bullet hits Chesapeake family hard," February 7, 2000, Copyright ©2000 by Landmark Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved. Posted by permission.

The Virginian-Pilot
Terry Holota could hear the far-off boom of New Year's fireworks as she stood in a friend's front yard in Poplar Hall.

She and her son, Christopher, 4, watched as several children played with flickering sparklers. Their laughter drowned out the popping of guns fired in celebration around the city.

Four minutes into the new year, one of those bullets tore into Holota's pelvis and shattered her hip bone. It also grazed the leg of her son, who had been in her arms.

The random act of a stranger changed her life in that moment.

Now, the 38-year-old Chesapeake woman is left to deal with mounting medical bills and no one to blame. Police don't know who fired the shot.

Five weeks after the shooting, Holota uses a walker to get around and must depend on family and friends to help care for her two children.

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Every week, new medical bills arrive, but she has no insurance to cover them. One seven-page invoice from Sentara Norfolk General Hospital is for more than $12,000.

Then there are the bills from the anesthesiologist, the cost of the ambulance ride and others. So far, the bills add up to about $23,000.

Doctors expect Holota to recover fully, but they don't know when she will be able to work. A previous paycheck - to - paycheck existence means Holota has no savings to cover her mortgage and bills from credit cards she has been using to get her through the rough spots.

Next month, she may lose the house she grew up in.

``I thought I would be OK,'' Holota said. ``I was alive and I thought maybe this was God telling me that this is a way to make a new start.''

The new millennium was supposed to be a new beginning for Holota and her children. In the midst of a divorce and working as a waitress, she had just completed training to be a Virginia Beach school bus driver and was assigned a bus shortly before the shooting. School officials have said Holota can have her job back once she recovers.

``I was making my bills,'' she said. But her good credit history may be wiped out if she starts to slide on monthly payments, she added.

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``One minute your life is doing okay and the next minute . . . I don't know really,'' Holota said. ``Next month am I going to be out on the street?''

``She just wants a little help while she's down,'' said Marie Orr, a family friend who has made dozens of calls on Holota's behalf. ``Where do you go? We all have this illusion that our local and state government will help us.''

Orr said she called Rep. Norman Sisisky's office and talked to an aide, but he was not able to help.

``He just wanted to talk to me about how to vote for welfare programs,'' Orr said.

Holota considered filing for bankruptcy, but an attorney told her she would have to forfeit her home to pay off her debts, she said.

If anyone has any ideas about where she can call for help, Orr said, she'll be happy to listen.

``I'll be glad to do the footwork if they'll just call with the numbers,'' Orr said.

As painful and frustrating as her ordeal has been, Holota said she knows the shooting probably was not intentional. And if police find the person who pulled the trigger, she said, she would not want that person to go to jail.

``I would really want to face them and let them know that this has really changed my life,'' Holota said. ``I feel, literally, like I am not the same person anymore.

``I'm glad I'm alive,'' she said. ``I know I'll get through this and God doesn't give you more than you can handle, but I can't handle any more.''

Contributions to help this school bus driver can be sent to: Teresa Holota Fund, c/o Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T), Atn: HT, 1809 Greenbrier Pkwy, Chesapeake, VA 23320-2605, Phone: (757) 523-4462

Letters of support and encouragement can be emailed to: The Virginian-Pilot Subject: Terry Holota, or mailed to The Virginian-Pilot, 150 W. Brambleton Ave., Norfolk, Virginia 23510

Anyone with information on programs or agencies that might be able to help can call Marie Orr direct at (757) 523-9110.

Your Comments on this article - Subject: Terry Holota (FEB 00 ATA)
The Virginian-Pilot
The Virginian-Pilot signature websites - Pilot Online.com, Hampton Roads.com, Career Connection, Auto Pilot, Real Estate Web, The Pilot's education programs: School Zone, Newspapers in Education along with their other sites, receive millions of page views a month. Visitor's welcomed.
Michael's Death
Every school bus driver should read this story whenever apathy threatens helping to keep kids safe.
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 Webrings - Take the grand tour ... Hundreds of 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."
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."
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.

For more about submitting stories, Click Here.


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