As his mother watched in horror, Haven Lee Norton screamed as a school bus rolled over him Monday morning. “Then he went silent,” said Shannon Norton, Haven’s mother.
The driver of the Springtown (Texas) school district bus didn’t hear her son as she drove over him, killing the 10-year-old, Shannon Norton said. She told her son to cross in front of the bus, as he did every morning, while the lights were flashing and another child was getting on the bus, she said.
“I saw him slip,” Norton said. “He hollered, but [the bus] started rolling and [the driver] had taken her foot off the brake. He tried to get out of the way. He hollered, and I hollered.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety is still investigating the accident. Evidence at the scene showed the boy was apparently struck by both a front and rear tire, said Trooper Gary Rozzell, a DPS spokesman. When the accident occurred about 6:30 a.m. at 121 Hilltop Meadows, between Springtown and Azle, it was already light, Norton said. The bus driver usually had her window down so she could communicate with parents and children, but the window was rolled up Monday morning.
“If she had her window down, she would have been able to hear,” Norton said. “I put my kid on that bus in her possession. It’s her job to protect my children and she took my child’s life because she wasn’t aware of her surroundings.”
Rozzell said the bus driver “stopped the bus and activated the lights” as she stopped to pick up another child across the street.
“The boy came up beside the bus as she deactivated the lights,” Rozzell said. “The bus started to pull forward, and the boy couldn’t get out of the way, and was struck.” At the time, there were four children and another bus driver on the bus,
Haven, a fourth-grader at Springtown Elementary School, was pronounced dead at the scene. Driver placed on leave
The bus driver, whose name wasn’t released, voluntarily submitted to drug and alcohol testing afterward, which is school district policy, Rozzell said. She has been placed on administrative leave, said Springtown school district Superintendent Mike Kelley.
“It’s standard operating procedure to place the driver on administrative leave and evaluate the situation — see where she is emotionally,” Kelley said. “I’d have a hard time knowing when I’d want to come back.”
Kelley described the driver as “a wonderful lady” who’s had a good driving record as a bus driver. “She’s done a great job for us the last two years,” Kelley said. Counselors were at the school Monday and will return Tuesday. Several ministers volunteered to help, and six area school districts offered counselors, Kelley said. Kelley said this was the first fatality that he knew of involving a Springtown school bus.
‘He loved going to school’ Norton said her son had been riding the bus for the last two weeks because one of the family’s cars had broken down. His 7-year-old sister also rides the bus but she stayed home on Monday, Norton said. She had recently met with school officials who reported that Haven had “caught up” to his fellow fourth-graders after moving to Springtown from Florida
last September. “He loved going to school, he loved his classmates,” Shannon Norton said. Norton said her son was also involved at Country Cowboy Church in Bridgeport, where their family worshipped. “He knew Jesus, he loved the outdoors, loved to fish with his Papi and his uncles and he loved to play with his uncles and his cousins,” Norton said. “He was just an awesome child.”
Before living in Florida, the family had resided in California. His mother plans to have a memorial service locally, but will have his remains cremated so she can eventually take his ashes to California. “He loved Texas, but he grew up in California,” she said. “California is his home.”
Investigators checked the bus to see if the lights and brakes were working properly and found no issues. It was released back to the school district. Rozzell said.
Article Online: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/05/13/4847091/boy-dies-after-being-run-over.html#storylink=cpy