A horrific school bus dragging accident in Plainfield, Massachusetts has claimed the life of a 9-year-old girl. The young child was killed as she attempted to get off the bus Friday afternoon at approximately 4 p.m.
According to reports from the Massachusetts State Police, the victim was getting off the bus at her scheduled stop but had not yet cleared the doors when the driver shut them. The child was caught in the doors as the school bus drove off, dragging her. The bus then struck the child, killing her instantly.
Police say there were several other children on the bus but did not say if any of the children witnessed the child being dragged and killed. Police are investigating the incident and said results would be turned over to the district attorney’s office, who will determine if any criminal charges will be pressed against the driver. No information regarding the driver or the bus company has been released.
Each year, approximately 135 people are killed in school bus accident. The majority of those killed are children and most of these incidents occur as children are either getting on or off the school bus. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) data shows that 65 percent of fatal school bus accident victims under the age of 19 were killed after being hit by a school bus.
Here in Virginia, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) own statistics show that school buses have a significantly higher number of accidents per hundred million miles of travel than other forms of transportation.
Although results of what caused the Massachusetts accident are still be investigated, it appears that the school bus driver was not being attentive to the fact that a small child was getting off the bus. Not only does a school bus driver have the responsibility to make sure a child arrives safely to and from school, he or she is also responsible for watching and ensuring that child has disembarked from the bus and is in a safe location before the bus pulls away.
There are specific instructions that school bus drivers are required to follow under Virginia law:
“While stopped, the driver shall keep the school bus warning devices in operation to warn approaching traffic to stop and allow pupils to cross the highway safely. Pupils who must cross the road shall be required to cross in front of the bus. They shall be required to walk to a point 10 feet or more in front of the bus, stop before reaching a position in line with the left side of the bus, and wait for a hand signal from the bus driver before starting across the highway.”
As parents, we do everything in our power to keep our children safe, yet too often, children suffer terrible injuries in accidents caused by other people’s negligence. Knowing what to do and where to turn during such a difficult time can be overwhelming for parents, which is why in these situations it is critical to contact a skilled Virginia personal injury attorney.