March 20, 2007
GROVETOWN, Ga.---A toddler has died after being hit by a school bus on Wilkins Road, off Wrightsboro Road near Grovetown. The bus was carrying ten children when it hit and killed two-year-old Cole Ford, who had run out into the street.
Authorities believe the bus driver didn't see the toddler walk towards the end of the bus.
Witnesses say Cole was playing in a neighbor's yard one minute, and then in an instant he was under the school bus before anyone, including his mother, could react to save him.
"I just hate death period...and it's terrible when you have something like this," said Columbia County coroner Vernon Collins.
According to witnesses, Cole was playing in the yard across from his home when the school bus driver stopped to put off two children.
"At this point, it seems that for some unknown reason the child ran under the bus, and the bus driver did not know the child ran under the bus," Collins said.
According to children on the bus, they saw the child heading towards the bus and told the bus driver to stop, but at that point, it was too late.
Joey Dillard and his sister Brooklyn were both on the bus.
"I told Ms. Canny to stop, and she kept going, and the little boy ran out, and we ran over him," Joey said.
"At first I heard my brother scream 'Stop!', and I was sitting in seat 11, and I saw his mom pick him up like this," Brooklyn said.
Neighbors say this is sad day for all of them, and that this horrible accident could have happened to any of them.
"I can't imagine it at all," said neighbor Elizabeth Hagan. "It's awful...it really is."
An autopsy will be conducted tomorrow on the child. Investigators say it appears to be a terrible accident.
The coroner tells us that the child's mother is as expected: in shock and trying to cope with this loss.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time a child has been killed by a school bus in Columbia County. Five-year-old Aleana Johnson, a kindergartner at Westmont elementary, was killed six years ago.
The bus was dropping kids off earlier than usual, and her mother was not yet at the bus stop.
The driver never saw the little girl stop in front of the bus and ran over her.
Aleana's parents pushed lawmakers to adopt federal bus guidelines, but the measure did not pass.
Columbia County, however, adopted safety measures for their drivers, and now notifies parents if the buses run late.