Normally at Autoblog, we don’t report vehicular crashes — they are, unfortunately, a fact of daily life. But on this Friday, after what has been a terrible week on the streets of America, we’re compelled to remind you about the sanctity of something none of us should ever take for granted: the safety zone surrounding school buses, school bus stops, and school zones.
There have been accidents at school bus stops this week in five states — resulting in the deaths of five children. Seven other people have been injured. Every case is terrible, but the worst may be the crash Tuesday in Rochester, Ind., in which a motorist struck four children, killing three. The children who died were siblings: 6-year-old twins Xzavier and Mason Ingle and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl. (The three are shown in the photo above.) The surviving fourth child had to be airlifted to a hospital with multiple injuries.
They were crossing a highway to their bus, which had stop sign out and lights flashing, when they were struck by a motorist, Alyssa Shepherd, who reportedly told Indiana State Police she did not recognize the flashing lights as a school bus. Shepherd has been charged with reckless homicide.
A witness said 9-year-old Alivia had attempted to shield her brothers from the oncoming car.
A day later in Mississippi, 9-year-old Dalen Thomas was boarding a bus when he was struck and killed by the driver of a pickup. That same day, a kindergartner survived after being struck by a car in Florida.
Then on Thursday, a 7-year-old boy was found dead at his stop by his bus driver in Franklin Township, Pennsylvania. He apparently had been struck by a hit-and-run driver, who when tracked down told police he was unaware he had hit someone. That same day, in Florida, a speeding car struck two adults and three children. Thankfully, all survived.
Authorities blame distracted driving for an increase in this type of accident — with drivers distracted by their infotainment, their cup of coffee, and above all, their smartphones.
A small personal aside: As I sat stopped behind a school bus this week — its stop sign out, its red lights flashing, and its children being unloaded — an impatient driver in the line of cars behind the bus started honking his horn. Yes, someone was honking his horn at a school bus.
Please: At a time in this country where the national climate feels like everyone is just looking out for No. 1 and not his fellow man, can’t we at least agree to look out for one another’s children?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Friday issued this safety reminder: