A five-year old child was killed on Wednesday outside of his Elementary school when he was struck by a city bus. The child’s identity has not been released pending notification of his family members, but he was apparently a student at the Tuolomne Elementary School near Ceres, California, in Modesto. The child, a boy, was apparently trying to reach his mother on the other side of the street and entered the road without using a crosswalk. The city bus struck him without the driver having seen him. The driver stopped immediately upon hearing the sound of the collision.
According to parents on the scene, the school is located on a small street that breaks into chaos each afternoon as children are dismissed. Though there is a crosswalk and parents and children are counseled to use it, few do. Many parents voice the opinion that the situation was an accident waiting to happen. Others questioned the wisdom of having a city bus traverse a school zone. According to Modesto City Schools spokeswoman Becky Fortuna, “Schools consistently remind families about traffic safety; beginning at back-to-school night and continuing throughout the year in newsletters and letters home.” Though the school’s officials did not make a statement about the incident, the district Superintend of the district, Pam Able, said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. Grief counselors are on site and will continue to be on site as long as they are needed.”
The bus was a Modesto Area Express bus. According to witnesses on the scene it was driving very slowly when the student saw his mother on the opposite side of the road and dashed into the street in front of the oncoming bus. The driver stopped at the sound of the child being struck by the front of his vehicle, pinning the child under the wheels and leaving onlookers struggling to try to help. The bus was eventually rolled backwards.
One resident of the street, Nancy Haverly, indicated that she has been concerned about the safety issue for a long time. “Parents are parked on this side of the street, and kids run across to them instead of going to the crosswalk. It’s a free-for-all to get into the cars.” She said that her husband Gary had run to the scene to attempt to perform CPR but was unable to because of the child’s position under the bus. Her husband said, “It’s asinine for a city bus to go through the school zone.”