As a general rule, this column rarely focuses on current news events, especially local ones. The reason for this is obvious. Due to a once weekly publication, by the time this article reaches print there’s a good chance “current news” is no longer quite so current.
However, on rare occasions, something occurs that exceeds the limitations of “current” and can’t, won’t and shouldn’t be ignored. Especially when a local news event becomes a national one. Or, something deemed current should remain so. Things like… not running over children.
Time: approximately 6:16am on the Thursday morning of March 2nd, 2023. Location: a residential bus stop, located on Old Mountain Road, in the Iredell County, N.C., school district. The incident: Two young girls (names withheld by parental request but judged to be of middle school age) are preparing to cross the road to board a school bus. The bus has come to a full and safe stop. Eight-way safety flashers are engaged. Little stop sign and crossing arm is extended. Two other vehicles have come to a full and safe stop behind said bus. With all safety measures in place the girls set off to cross the road.
As the girls step into the open lane they are suddenly bathed in bright white light. For but a fraction of a second, they freeze, like human deer in headlights — thankfully for but a fraction. As the girls lunge forward, in a desperate attempt to complete their crossing, a silver Kia Soul blasts past, horn blaring, missing the smaller of the girls by mere inches.
All of this was captured on the buses forward facing camera. The video has gone somewhat viral and can be viewed on multiple news outlets as well as YouTube. Just search, “kids almost hit by car” and you’ll find it. If you’re a parent, it will horrify you, if not… it’s still pretty damned intense.
Now let us step away from the news desk for a moment and review the law.
Everywhere there are school buses the law clearly states the obvious. Under NO circumstances should a driver pass a stopped school bus when its warning lights have been activated and stop sign deployed. This is not debatable, there are no excuses nor exemptions to this law. Did you know that even emergency vehicles, ambulances included, must stop or at least slow and exercise EXTREME caution when encountering a stopped school bus? Ergo we can assume after the fact apologies for “distracted driving” or personal emergencies will not be accepted.
Now back to… me.
Fortunately, the driver of the potential death car, (who was driving with a revoked license) was arrested, his car was impounded… there was no way for him to avoid being grounded (sorry it’s not funny, but too easy) on Saturday, around 2:10am…then was released on Sunday at 1am when he made the $20,000 bond, and is now out of custody.
And a resounding “WHAT THE F***!” emanates and echoes. As the news desk is abandoned, for the sake of rational sanity.
So, the penalty for passing a stopped school bus and damned near running down children is less than 24 hours in a detention facility? And he’s only been charged with passing a stopped school bus, driving while his license was revoked, careless and reckless driving, and improper passing? What about endangering the life of a minor? Reckless Endangerment? Potential vehicular manslaughter? Attempted murder?
Attempted murder? Well, considering he first passed two stopped cars. Then a bus, which you can’t say he unintentionally missed, at high speeds. Then high beamed and blew his horn at the girls, he obviously could have been attempting something.
Maybe that charge is a bit harsh so no, let it go. Slap his wrist, scold him, but not too much or he can sue. Allow him immediately back into society where he, like so many others of his kind, will just go right back to doing what they’ve always done and always will do… until it’s fatal. Never considering that it’s far easier to snub out a match as opposed to putting out a forest fire.
That’s not to say the penalty for passing a stopped school bus should be death. But sterner punishments would serve as better reminders, potentially curbing future actions.
I welcome almost all questions, comments via FOCUS, or E-mail me at [email protected].
Hope to hear from ya until then try and stay focused! See ya.