Walker County Schools looking at school bus safety protocol
There are questions left unanswered after 6-year-old Zackery Bryant was hit and killed by his school bus.
Wednesday, April 16th 2014, 5:44 PM EDT
There are questions left unanswered after 6-year-old Zackery Bryant was hit and killed by his school bus. The accident happened Monday morning in front of Chattanooga Valley Elementary School. Parents were seen comforting students as they passed the scene.
Walker County Superintendent Damon Raines says the school family at Chattanooga Valley Elementary is still trying to understand the loss. He says while procedures are in place to keep students safe, his office will be reviewing bus safety protocol in the near future.
"I just go back and I think about the number of afternoons, mornings and afternoons, that it's worked flawlessly with the supervision that we've had out there, with the training. You try not to change things based on an event, but you also have to look at things and make sure we're doing exactly what we need to do to create that safe environment," says Raines.
Raines says he is still trying to figure out how Monday's horrible accident happened.
"We have folks there at school that were right there on the scene when things happened and we're having to make sure we're supporting them with resources as well."
Raines says any time students are being loaded and unloaded from the bus, adults are watching.
"At Chattanooga Valley Elementary, you have an administrator that's out in the bus line every day. And then you have someone that stands at the door where all the students enter to make sure they're all going to a central location."
In addition, there are two to three other teachers watching the bus and car lines.
"At that point, you're talking about four to five people every day in a position to where it runs smoothly every day," says Rains.
He also emphasizes bus drivers go through yearly training with re-fresher courses throughout the year.
"Last year, mid-year, the DOT offered some new loading and unloading protocols. We stopped, brought our drivers in, and re-trained. There's an actual evaluation system that they go through where our transportation director actually rode with them and marked them off the evaluation system."
He says it is too soon to say if any changes will be made.
"We'll talk through that and debrief a little bit. I don't foresee that requiring us to do any changes because we felt like the protocols in place were there for a reason and proven protocols."
In the meantime, he offers his support to Zackery Bryant's family in this difficult time.
"Our hearts are just heavy with this whole accident that happened. We just want to continue to reach out to that family and know that we love them and we support them and we want to do anything we can to help them through this as well."
Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows school buses are the safest vehicle to ride in on the way to and from school.
Teenagers behind the wheel pose more of a threat on the road than anyone else. Fifty-eight percent of student deaths are related to teen driving, 23 percent of all school travel deaths are linked to an adult driving a car and only one percent of all school travel deaths involved a school bus.
Taking a close look at that one percent, between 2000 and 2009, 18 children, 5 years old or younger, were killed in a school bus related incident. In the age range Zackery falls, 61 children between 5 and 7 years old were killed. The largest group affected by school bus related fatalities was 158 people killed who were 19 years old or older.