When I was a little kid, I remember the school bus driver telling us that the reason why never stick our hands out the window is that we could get badly hurt.
The bigger kids had the dirty details of that ominous warning; supposedly, a kindergartener lost his hand when he stuck his arm out the window while playing with a yo-yo that he’d wrapped around his wrist.
The bus turned a corner, the yo-yo got caught on a passing tree branch, and…you can imagine the rest.
I thought of that horrifying story that kept me terrified of school bus windows all through my childhood when the news broke in my home state of Maine.
A child was badly injured after his backpack got stuck and the bus took off, dragging him nearly 600 feet.
In Buxton, Maine, which is a stone’s throw from where I live, a kindergartner was exiting his school bus this past Thursday when the driver closed the door, entangling one of the boy’s backpack straps.
The bus began to drive off, dragging the child 575 feet before finally stopping.
According to the Associated Press, the boy’s mom saw the horrifying event unfold.
“I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I just wanted him to stop. I didn’t think he was going to stop. I thought he was going to just keep driving. It felt like forever,” she told WGME-TV.
“My son tried to get off. And he immediately started to drive off. I was waiting for his little body to go underneath the bus. I didn’t think the driver was going to stop,” the boy’s mother, Athena Lavigne told WGME-TV.
The boy, who was wearing shorts and a tee-shirt, is alive and has been treated at a local hospital for road rash.
Local news station WGME-TV shared images of his injuries. But, be warned, the images are hard to look at because it appears the child’s skin was worn right off in some places.
Lavigne told reporters that her son is scared and doesn’t want to take the school bus anymore, and honestly, who could blame him after such a traumatic event?
One question that hangs in the air is why the school bus driver closed the door fast enough to ensnare a child.
And why did he drive off without making sure the boy was safely on the sidewalk or in a driveway?
According to WGME-TV, the school transportation director explained that there are strict protocols in place specifically to avoid accidents like that unfolded here.
“Loading and unloading is the most critical time of a bus driver’s job.
Bus drivers must be 100% focused during that time.
Obviously, mistakes happened,” Dottie Muchmore the transportation director told WGMT-TV.
Muchmore shared that the rules spell out clearly that when a child exits the bus, the bus driver is to watch that child safely walk to the front of the bus, make eye contact, and then wait to be waived across.
That obviously didn’t happen.
The school district told reporters that the 63-year-old bus driver was a fairly new driver.
He has since been put on administrative leave. The Buxton Police Department and local school district are investigating the incident.
Our hearts go out to the little boy and his family. Hopefully, nothing like this ever happens again.