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Bus Driver Deaths, Injuries Pepper Back-to-School Weeks

22 Aug, 2023 Liz Carey

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Little Rock, AR ( – As children head back to school, the adults who drive them and protect them from drivers once again face hazards on the road.

Over the past two weeks, several bus drivers and a security guard have suffered injuries or death as kids were being transported to and from school, officials said.

In Pulaski County, Arkansas, a school officials are urging safety after a security guard was killed with directing traffic on the first day of school.

Arkansas State Police said the Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) security officer was struck and killed near Joe T. Robinson Elementary School. Officers said Victor Montgomery was directing traffic in front of the school when he was hit by a vehicle.

Officers said Montgomery was on the road between Robinson High School and Robinson Elementary School during drop-off when a vehicle traveling westbound hit him and dragged him for several yards. An employee on the scene called 911 and Montgomery was taken to a nearby hospital. He later succumbed to his injuries, officials said.

"These PCSSD security personnel put their life on the line by standing in these roads to direct traffic and they may not have LRPD or Arkansas State Police written on their chest, but they should still be taken just as seriously," Jessica Duff, communications director for PCSSD, said in a statement.

According to Duff, the driver was apprehended after the incident. However, officials said he was not a parent or a school employee. The driver surrendered to authorities and was tested for substances, Duff said.

“Officer Montgomery may be gone but he will not be forgotten,” said Dr. Jay Pickering, principal of Joe T. Robinson High School. “Paw Paw will forever be in our hearts and the halls of Robinson High.”

The school district offered its condolences.

"PCSSD is very upset and saddened that this accident happened. It is imperative for motorists to slow down in school zones. There are three schools within walking distance of each other in this area of Highway 10/Cantrell Road,” the school district said in a statement. “There is absolutely no reason for any motorist to drive above the speed limit in this area any time of day, much less during school drop off and pick up time. This could have been avoided if motorists were more attentive and aware of their surroundings while driving in school zones.”

In Memphis, a bus driver and three children were injured in a crash near the Memphis airport, officials said.

On August 9, officers said an SUV hit the front of a First Student school bus. The bus was carrying students from Oakhaven Middle School and Oakhaven High School, witnesses said,.

Two of the children injured were taken to the nearby hospitals in critical conditions, but officials said they were passengers onboard the SUV. The bus driver and the other child were taken to the hospital with non-critical conditions.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the bus driver and one student on the bus were transported to the hospital in non-critical condition. We encourage drivers to slow down and remain alert on the roads for the safety of our children and entire community," the Memphis-Shelby County School district said in a statement.

On August 1, a driver and two children were injured win a head on crash near Indianapolis.

Police in Wayne Township, Indiana said they were investigating the crash that happened just after 9 a.m. on the city’s west side. The bus, from the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, was hit after an SUV crossed the center line of the road.

Two children were checked out by medics on the scene. The bus driver was taken to the hospital as a precaution, the school district said. The driver of the other vehicle suffered minor injuries, officials said.

In Illinois, officials are warning people to be more careful around school buses after five Illinois residents died in school-bus related accidents in 2021.

Illinois State Police are warning motorists that back-to-school season means an increase in traffic during the morning and afternoon commutes.

According to the National Safety Council, school bus-related crashes killed 108 people in 2021, up 50 percent over 2020’s rate of 54. About 5 percent of the deaths in school-bus related crashes between 2012 and 2021 were school bus drivers, the NSC said. Of the 9,700 people injured in school bus-related crashes, nearly 10 percent were school bus drivers.

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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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