Children hit by school bus near Taylorsville
Two children were hit by a school bus near Taylorsville early Thursday morning.
It happened on Chaucer Drive, west of US 31 and east of I-65.
Six-year-old Brian Moffitt, a kindergartner at Taylorsville Elementary School was treated and released from Columbus Regional Hospital. His nine-year-old sister Aiyanna, a second grader, wasn't as fortunate. She was flown to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis and has been in surgery most of the day for serious injuries to her extremities.
The news rattled parents of other school children.
"It was a block away from my house. It's pretty heart-wrenching. It's real emotional," said parent Tiffany Oliver.
The school bus driver, 23-year-old Dylan Graham of Columbus, is a substitute bus driver for the school district. He's been with the district for three months and Thursday was his second day driving that specific route.
Authorities believe that several factors contributed to the accident, including some confusion about the bus stops. Video footage showed a child inside the bus telling the driver that he didn't need to stop at Chaucer and Buckingham Drive.
The footage shows Graham stopping at the stop sign. As the bus moved forward, a witness reported - and footage verified - that the boy darted into the roadway, followed by his sister. Both children had been standing near the road on the south side of the bus.
The boy was struck by the bumper and fell to the ground. The bus passed over him without striking him, as he fell between the tires. His sister was struck and run over by the front left tire.
The driver stopped the bus before the rear tire also ran over the girl.
Graham submitted to a drug screen and results will be available in a few weeks. Investigators don't believe impairment was a factor.
A second bus was brought in to bus the remaining children to school. An inspection of the bus found that it was in good working order.
"We encourage parents and grandparents to use this opportunity to discuss school bus and traffic safety with children. Children should never enter the roadway unless the stop arm has been extended, traffic is checked by looking both ways, and finally children should not proceed until they are acknowledged by the driver," the sheriff's department said.
Bartholomew County Deputy Chief Todd Noblitt told WTHR that it's a difficult situation for all concerned.
"I wasn't here when the accident happened. However, I think anytime children are involved, it doesn't matter who they are. When they're in distress, it hits home. I can only imagine the feelings the bus driver has. At this point we don't have any reason to believe the bus driver acted negligent in any way, however we are conducting our investigation to determine what happened and why it happened," he said.
Thirty-five other children were on the bus involved in the accident. Counselors were waiting for them when they arrived at school.
"I didn't see a lot of emotions, a lot of those things. A little bit late and a little bit behind schedule, but they seemed to be real happy," said Larry Perkins, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation.
School officials say, for the most part, it was a typical day for the students, but parents are still concerned.
"It just takes a strike to your heart. I've lived in this community my entire life. This has never happened here before," said Trudy Stroup.
Two children who started their day as witnesses to a tragic accident had an uneventful ride home, perhaps too young to comprehend the consequences of what occurred.
The Sheriff's office was assisted by the Indiana State Police, Columbus Regional Hospital, Columbus Volunteer Fire Department, German Township Volunteer Fire Department and Lifeline Helicopter.