Bus driver: Principal dies while pushing several children to safety

Memorial continues to grow for Susan Jordan at Amy Beverland Elementary

Parents, students go on book-buying spree to honor principal killed in crash

Funeral set for Principal Susan Jordan; classes at Amy Beverland school to resume Monday

Funeral set for Principal Susan Jordan; classes at Amy Beverland school to resume Monday

No mechanical problems found on school bus involved in fatal crash

No mechanical problems found on school bus involved in fatal crash

Prayer Wednesday morning honors principal killed in school bus crash

Prayer Wednesday morning honors principal killed in school bus crash

Prayer Wednesday morning honors principal killed in school bus crash

Bus driver: Principal dies while pushing several children to safety

No mechanical problems found on school bus involved in fatal crash

No mechanical problems found on school bus involved in fatal crash

Parents react to Lawrence Township bus crash

Parents react to Lawrence Township bus crash

Parents react to Lawrence Township bus crash

Parents react to Lawrence Township bus crash

Parents react to Lawrence Township bus crash

Parents react to Lawrence Township bus crash

Parents react to Lawrence Township bus crash

Parents react to Lawrence Township bus crash

Parents react to Lawrence Township bus crash

Parents react to Lawrence Township bus crash

Parents react to Lawrence Township bus crash

Parents react to Lawrence Township bus crash

Susan Jordan, left, with Superintendent Shawn Smith
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Classes are canceled all across the Lawrence Township School District Wednesday, after a tragic accident killed an elementary school principal.

Principal Susan Jordan died Tuesday afternoon and two students were seriously injured, when a school bus jumped the curb during afternoon pickup at Amy Beverland Elementary School.

The bus driver said Jordan pushed children to safety before being struck herself.

During dismissal, as parents came to pick up their children, they heard the news of an accident. Immediately, there was concern, confusion and chaos.

Parents clutched cell phones, trying to reach their students inside the school, hoping for any answers about the accident right after school.

"What happened with this bus?"

"Is my child safe?"

"It drove up on the sidewalk?" parent Alisha Ray asked of her fourth grader on her cell phone.

"Oh my goodness. Keep your phone on, okay, honey?"

"Do you know the bus number?" another parent asked an IMPD officer on scene. 

"No, I don't have any of that information yet," the officer replied.

"I have a sixth grader. She just called and said, 'Dad, I'm okay but I don't know where my little...where her little sister is', so we're worried," said parent Shawn Clayton. "My wife is flying over here and we're scared."

"The bus ran up and hit a kid and she thinks Mrs. Jordan," Ray said after talking to her daughter again. "It's terrifying, very much so."

Another mom who had just arrived at the school jumped in to help.

"I was picking up my son and I saw the bus. It didn't stop. There as a crowd of kids on the sidewalk. I just saw a lot of commotion, a lot of people run. I saw the bus wouldn't stop. So I got out of my car and I ran over there. The bus hit two kids. They were on the sidewalk. It hit the principal. One of the kids got stuck under the bus and I was helping the one who wasn't under the bus," she said.

Investigators say the accident happened right at dismissal time, just before 2:45 p.m. They say Bus 244, with 25 children on board, was in line outside the school when, for some reason, it lurched forward and struck three people on the sidewalk.

The bus driver was the normal driver for that route. She was uninjured.

"The bus jumped the curb at the school and made contact with two children at the school and one adult," explained Indianapolis Fire Capt. Rita Reith.

Two ten-year-old students were seriously hurt when the bus hit them. They're being treated at Riley Hospital and investigators say their injuries are not life-threatening.

The school's beloved principal, Susan Jordan, was killed instantly.

Parents were stunned when they heard the news, as they gathered across the street from the school.

"It was Mrs. Jordan? Oh God, oh no," one parent cried in the crowd.

"It's terrible. Just terrible," another said.

"It's very, very sad that I have to report that the fatality was a great educator. Ms. Susan Jordan, the principal of Amy Beverland, was fatally struck by a school bus this afternoon. As superintendent of schools, representative of the entire school community, we lost a great educator today. We're gonna work very closely with the authorities. We want to make it very clear it was an accident and we just ask that everyone in this community and beyond, please pray for our students and our great leader," said Superintendent Dr. Shawn Smith, MSD Lawrence Township, speaking at a news conference Tuesday evening.

RELATED: Parents react to Susan Jordan's passing

She was, in the end, a heroic leader.

The female bus driver says the instant the accident occurred, Jordan pushed children out of the way to keep them safe, before getting struck by the bus herself.

"We heard all the teachers run in and say, 'Call the ambulance and the police'," said Ray's daughter, whose bus was next to board, "and that's when it all started and got really scared and started crying."

There were many tears and a lot of hand-holding well into the evening, as parents and students finally reunited at the school and walked back to their cars to go home.

"You cannot imagine the relief. Can't imagine," Ray said, clutching her daughter tightly. "Scary. She is sleeping with me tonight."

Yet even as they were grateful to have their children safe, parents say they're also feeling tremendous sadness for Susan Jordan. They're mourning an incredible loss.

"I'm one of the blessed ones. There's someone out there who didn't get so lucky today and we pray for them," Ray said. "So tragic."

The investigation into why the bus lurched forward continues. The bus driver told police she's not sure why that happened. Eyewitness News pulled up the maintenance records and discovered that Bus 244 was just inspected on Friday and showed no mechanical problems at that time.

The inspection following the accident found that the bus had loose, damaged or improperly aligned body parts, which may have occurred as a result of the accident.

The bus will be inspected again before going back into service if it does go back into service.

The bus driver did undergo a drug screen to detect any potential impairment, which is standard procedure after an accident, per the Department of Transportation.

The school district cancelled classes Wednesday in memory of Jordan, who was principal for over 20 years at the elementary school.

There will also be no before or after school care Wednesday, the district says, though after school activities will continue as scheduled.

Four locations will be open Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. for district staff and families to find emotional support, including Amy Beverland Elementary, Belzer Middle School, Transportation and the Lawrence Education and Community Center.

Classes will resume as scheduled on Thursday, with support available at all buildings for those in need.

Helping children cope

While adults may have a clear understanding of what they are seeing, for children, it may be more confusing.

"I was just really scared, 'cause I didn't know what was going to happen," said nine-year-old Jacob Heffner.

"Then I was kind of scared and then I saw a student on the ground that was screaming," said 10-year-old Eric Nixon.

"Probably, in this case, that's one of the most pressing concerns," said Dr. Jennifer Walthall, a Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health emergency medicine physician.

A concern to help kids realize what has happened and pay close attention to how they absorb what's surely a difficult situation for anyone. 

"Make sure they're sleeping, making sure they're eating and haven't changed in behavior, so that if you need to contact a professional about their responses to situations like this that you do so early and often," said Walthall.

RELATED: Community leaders, parents honor principal killed in crash

The MSD of Lawrence Township Board of Education released the following statement: 

The School Board of MSD Lawrence Township expresses its deepest condolences to the family and school community that so dearly love Susan Jordan.

Susan was an amazing educator. She had a remarkable way of making everyone she came in contact with feel valued and important. She had a passion for children that is unmatched. The entire Lawrence Township Community mourns her loss and extends our sympathy to the Amy Beverland Community the multitudes of people whose lives she touched.

Mayor Joe Hogsett issued this statement:

"This afternoon, Indianapolis police officers, firefighters, and medics responded to a call – and a place – that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

In the midst of tragedy, they responded quickly and with complete professionalism.  For that, I want to thank them. 

Tonight, our hearts are heavy – but full. From where we stand at this moment, our prayers go out: to the family of Principal Jordan; to the students and parents touched by this tragedy, and to two hospital rooms at Riley.

In moments like this, I know that tears come far easier than words. 

But – on behalf of the people of Indianapolis – I want the students, parents, and teachers of Amy Beverland Elementary to know one thing: tonight, we are all ONE family, tonight we are all part of the Amy Beverland community."


"Knowing her as my leader, she would want us all to do the right thing for children and that everything would be okay," said Dr. Smith. "That's just the type of person she was. She was here every day, never missed a day of work. Just a phenomenal individual who truly cared about children. This is just a tragic situation to have and we just ask everyone to continue to pray for us."

"We cannot express deeply enough the sympathy and condolence that all of the City of Indianapolis feels not only for the family of Susan Jordan but for the children affected by today's accident," said Mayor Joe Hogsett, who also spoke at the news conference.

"We are also reminded of the goodness of the people that respond to tragedies like this and that we are in fact one city. We will endure," the mayor added.

Teachers and students at the school made this video last May to thank Susan Jordan for her work. A viewer shared it on Facebook this afternoon.