"I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I just wanted him to stop. I didn't think he was going to stop. I thought he was going to just keep driving," the boy's mother recalled.
A Maine school bus driver has been placed on leave after a kindergartner was dragged almost 600 feet when his backpack got stuck in the vehicle's door.
According to ABC station WMTW, the terrifying incident took place in front of the 6-year-old's mother, Athena Lavigne, when he arrived home from school earlier this month. The traumatized young boy was taken to Maine Medical Center by ambulance to get treated for the scrapes and bruises he suffered down the side of his leg. "My son tried to get off. And he immediately started to drive off," Lavigne told CBS station WGME.
A kindergartner whose backpack got stuck in the door of a Buxton bus was dragged about about 575 feet before the driver noticed, officials said. The boy, who was wearing shorts and sneakers, suffered road rash and was taken to a hospital for treatment. https://t.co/dvBkmcFhCk— Spectrum News Maine (@SpecNewsMaine) May 17, 2022
"I was waiting for his little body to go underneath the bus. I didn't think the driver was going to stop," she continued. Lavigne reportedly waited on Dunnell Road in Buxton on April 12 for the bus carrying her 6-year-old son and 6-year-old niece. She said she saw her niece get off the bus but her son's backpack strap got caught on the vehicle as the bus doors closed. "Then the bus immediately started to drive away. I saw my son's feet beneath the bus being dragged and I heard him scream," Lavigne recalled.
The boy's mother says she saw her son being dragged by the bus.— WKYT (@WKYT) May 14, 2022
"I ran after the school bus. I was screaming for him to stop," she said. "I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I just wanted him to stop. I didn't think he was going to stop. I thought he was going to just keep driving. It felt like forever. It was terrifying." Her father-in-law, Mike Lavigne, revealed that the boy's mother "ran all the way down the hill chasing the bus." School officials revealed that the school bus driver stopped the vehicle after noticing Lavigne running behind them. According to Buxton police, the bus dragged the child from Rachel's Way, about 575 feet (175.2 meters), to Pinder Road.
“It was terrifying, as a mom, to be screaming down the street, chasing your son thinking you’re gonna watch him die,” the boy's mother said. https://t.co/bl4POpmcQd— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) May 17, 2022
The boy's father, Mike Lavigne, said that his son suffered a lot of scrapes on one side of his body. His parents revealed that the child was wearing shorts and a pair of sneakers on the day of the accident. "He's got road rash down the side of his left leg. He's been a real trooper. He's really scared. Doesn't want to ride the school bus anymore", said Athena Lavigne. According to Dottie Muchmore, the transportation director for the Bonny Eagle School District, bus drivers complete a minimum of 40 hours of training before working with students. "Loading and unloading is the most critical time of a bus driver's job. Bus drivers must be 100% focused during that time. Obviously, mistakes happened," she said.
Muchmore explained that when children are being dropped off and have to cross the street, they're supposed to walk to a point in front of the bus, look to the bus driver, and wait to be waved across. "We do have a very strict crossing procedure in our district. They cross halfway over, and then they cross the rest of the way at the driver's direction," she said. Unfortunately, this procedure was not followed in this case. Lavigne said that the driver "did not allow enough time for the children to get off the school bus, walk out where they're supposed to be, and then cross the road." According to the school district, the 63-year-old bus driver is relatively new. He's been placed on administrative leave since the time of the incident. "I don't understand how this happened. I'm just so glad he's OK," Lavigne said of her son.
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Marilyn Nieves