7-Year-Old Girl in Coma After Being Struck While Exiting School Bus

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
November 29, 2018US News
7-Year-Old Girl in Coma After Being Struck While Exiting School Bus
A school bus in Indiana, on Oct. 30, 2018. (Santiago Flores/South Bend Tribune via AP)

A 7-year-old Maryland girl is in a coma after a truck slammed into her while she was getting off her school bus in front of her home on Nov. 27.

“She was late last night put in a medically induced coma,” family friend Mike Wathen told WJLA on Nov. 28.

Skyla Shirriel suffered injuries after being hit by the truck in Bryanstown in Charles County on Tuesday afternoon.

Wathen, whose family lives with the Shirriel family, said that his children only narrowly avoided being hit by the same truck.

“The other three little boys were pretty shook up. They had a tough time last night,” said Wathen. “They just had questions about what happened to her. They all saw it.”

The accident is the latest across the nation in a spate that has left multiple children dead and dozens injured as officials and parents try to figure out why drivers continually disobey the law that requires stopping for a school bus that has its warning lights and stop arm activated.

Police officers said that the 35-year-old female driving the truck ignored the blinking lights and stop sign and drove past the bus, hitting the 7-year-old in the process.

Charles County officials told Fox 5 that the driver remained on the scene after hitting Skyla.

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office’s Traffic Operations Unit is investigating the collision and no charges have been filed as of yet pending the outcome of the investigation.

Skyla is a student at T.C. Martin Elementary School.

Rash of Accidents

In late October and early November, 14 people, mostly students, were hit at school bus stops in just three days, leaving five people dead. On one road in Florida in mid-November, deputies wrote 30 tickets in a short period of time as drivers brazenly ignored the warning lights and stop arm on school buses.

Alyssa Shepherd, who hit four children, three of whom died, in Indiana on Oct. 30 was charged with reckless homicide. She appeared in court on Nov. 15 and pleaded not guilty. A pretrial hearing was set for Feb. 5.

The Indiana accident highlighted a daily problem in rural areas, officials told the Tribune-Star. “This was right here at our back door … among Indiana people and in areas where you wouldn’t think it would happen,” said David Henry, South Vermillion School Corp. transportation director. “That did not happen in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, or Evansville. It happened in a smaller, rural area.”

He said that many drivers are aware of the law requiring drivers to stop but drive past the bus anyway, while others are distracted by texting or something else. “I can’t fathom in my mind being in such a hurry I have to pass a school bus stop arm … because going to work is more important than the safety of a kid,” he said.

In Maryland on just one day this year, a total of 3,812 bus stop violations were reported, according to WJLA.

Fatal Crashes

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (pdf), there were 1,172 school-transportation-related fatal motor vehicle crashes between 2006 and 2015. During that time, an average of 131 fatalities per year were attributed to those crashes.

Officers investigating the crashes urged drivers to be more careful, especially around rush hour.

“Sadly it takes a reminder like this that our school buses do share the highways with us, do share the roads, in morning, and evening traffic,” Mississippi Highway Patrol Master Sgt. Ray Hall told WCBI.

He said that drivers should be cautious anytime they see a school bus, even if it’s not loading or unloading students. “It may have already unloaded a child that’s a half mile down the road, you pass that school bus and that child, for some unknown reason, is in the middle of the road, so it’s not just loading and unloading, when you see a school bus, you need to be alert,” he said.

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