To the editor,
Who is protecting our children? I have been a bus driver in Power County since 1987. Once again, I almost had a tragic accident in my school bus.
It was not my fault, but instead it was the fault of a young careless driver who was not paying attention. I was traveling south on McKinley Street out behind A.F. High School. There was a small black Nissan pickup in front of me, and the teenage driver pulled over into Koompin cellars, and the passenger jumped out. The driver of the pickup then stomped on the gas and pulled right out in front of me, cutting me off. I lay on the horn, and I stand on the brakes to try to avoid hitting him. I managed to come to a stop about one and a half feet from the pickup driver’s door. The teenage driver’s eyes were as big as saucers, and he was white as a ghost, because I believe that he realized how close he came to being killed by his negligent actions. So the teenage driver pulled around and his passenger jumped back in the pickup, and they headed back to the high school.
This was just “kids out having a good time” right? The boy who cut me off could have been injured or killed, and he could have caused the kids in my bus to have been injured or killed.
If you have ever driven a bus with the safety of everyone on board in your hands then you know that this is really terrifying. I contacted the sheriff’s office. The officers came to visit with me and gathered statements from myself and the bus monitor, who is also a member of this community, and I signed the citation, because I witnessed what happened. The officer finished his report and gave it to the prosecutor’s office.
After not hearing from the prosecutor for a month, I called the responding officer again, and the officer told me that he has not heard from the prosecutor on this matter, either. The officer told me that he would contact the prosecutor’s office to see what is going on with this case. I found out that, once again, the prosecutor dismissed a school bus citation without ever contacting our officers, bus drivers, or any witnesses to the incident. When Judge Laggis was a prosecutor in our community, these citations were dealt with, instead of being swept under the rug and ignored. People were held accountable for their actions, whether or not they had a clean driving record, and without regard for their status in the community.
I spoke with Deputy Prosecutor Anson Call, and he told me that the teenager driver of the pickup came to Anson’s office to visit with Anson, and after Anson saw that the teenager had a clean driving record, and seemed to understand that what he had done was wrong, the prosecutor’s office dismissed the school bus citation.
What does this say to our community members? It says that you can run our school bus stop-arms and risk the lives of the children who ride the bus and nothing will happen, because the prosecutor’s office will dismiss the traffic charge without contacting those involved. I wish the prosecutor would come ride a bus just once to see what it is like to have the safety of all these children in your hands. Then maybe they would understand why we school bus drivers sign these citations. It is not for the fun of it. You as prosecutors want the community’s support and respect. Where is the respect for the safety of our children?
To his credit, Mr. Call did apologize, and he said that maybe he should have spoken with me and the witness before just dismissing the school bus citation. Mr. Call also told me that in the future, the prosecutor’s office would contact the people involved.
I sincerely hope that he does what he says he will do. These school bus violations should not be ignored, because they have the potential to injure or kill our children.
Kathy Crane and concerned parent Amy Larsen, whose children were on the bus involved in the incident
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