Children often play in path where child hit by bus

By: Melissa Tune Email
By: Melissa Tune Email

March 21, 2007

GROVETOWN, Ga.---It's a path that was supposed to have been blocked...but if it had been, would it have saved Cole Ford's life? That is still the unanswered question as a community continues to grieve over the loss of a little boy killed by a school bus.

This morning, more than 150 bus drivers met at Harlem High School to talk about that bus route and the dangers of the job.

Investigators were out at the accident scene earlier today reconstructing the events, but this evening the owner of the dirt road, John Wilkins, was conducting his own investigation. He says he did everything he could to try and prevent something like this from happening.

"It has been closed off before, by the way, but it gets undone," he said.

The bumpy path, barely big enough for a car to pass through, much less a school bus, is where two-year-old Cole Ford lost his life. Wilkins, the owner of the road which connects to the path, says he has closed off the loop before because he knew it was dangerous.

"I came here today at the time it happened yesterday to see if the bus was going to turn around like it was supposed to, or come through here...and if it came through, I was going to stop the bus," he told News 12.

"I had posts through here with a fence, and it got torn down."

Had it not been torn down, Wilkins believes the child might still be alive.

Instantly noticeable a day after the tragic accident was that children were still playing near the road. There were adults outside, but the tragic death of the little boy has truly upset the residents. When we tried to talk with them about the play area, some of them met us with angry remarks.

"If you can see down there, the children's play toys are practically in the road area," Wilkins pointed out.

There was an attempt to put up a fence to block out view of the area, not just the road.

Wilkins says instead of being angry and putting up a barrier now, that fence should have gone up a long time ago.

"If they'd've had that fence up...I think I would have had it up a long time ago. Not to block the road, but to have a safe area for my children to play in."

Wilkins says he will now try to block the path again, in hopes of preventing traffic from coming in and out and preventing another child from being hit by a school bus or any other vehicle.

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