You may have heard about the Georgia school bus crash last week that killed one student when the bus ran off Highway 113 and rolled over. The student, James Rashawn Walker, was ejected through a window and died shortly thereafter.
Since the accident, many interesting discussions have surfaced--one of the most interesting being about how, according to the Georgia State Patrol, the driver involved in the crash lacked proper certification to drive a school bus. Could this lack of certification have been the factor that led to the student, affectionately called Ray-Ray by his classmates, being killed?
Not necessarily, according to Carroll County school officials. They say the bus driver had been through more than the necessary amount of training to be officially certified as a bus driver for the district. In other words, even though it appears he had yet to actually receive certification, school spokespersons insist that the driver was perfectly legal to drive, since he had completed all necessary prerequisites and was at the time driving under a trainer's supervision.
Of course, the school district absolutely has an interest in protecting itself against a Georgia school bus death lawsuit, so we must take their words with a heavy grain of salt.
And it's difficult to verify how much training the driver actually did receive--that's why an official certification is so important. Actually, technically, the driver is supposed to have two certifications: a "P" signifying passenger endorsement, which he did have, and an "S" for school bus endorsement, which he did not.
Meanwhile, as some Georgia parents, school officials and community members call for stricter qualifications for future bus driver trainees, others are calling for something more than 200 school districts across the nation already have: safety belts on school buses.
One of these calls, from local Douglas County, Ga. Coroner Randy Daniel, is particularly poignant. Talking to the press, Daniel noted that the way the bus rolled over wasn't "tremendous...it just kind of rolled over on its side [and] threw him out the window." He maintains Ray-Ray Walker would still be alive had he been wearing a seat belt.
As a Gwinnett County bus fatality lawyer who sees hundreds of car accident fatalities a year, as Coroner Daniel certainly must, I have to agree. The roads are rife with unsafe drivers, and while they absolutely must be held accountable for any accidents they cause, we also must do all that we can to ensure our children are kept as safe as possible from their poor decisions.
For now, as investigations continue, the driver and his trainer have been placed on administrative leave. It's still up in the air as to which measures will be taken for future buses and their drivers. But if one positive thing has come of this tragedy, it is a serious look at student safety going forward.
If your child has been seriously injured or killed in a Georgia school bus accident, you may be overwhelmed by grief, expenses, and confusion as to who should be held accountable. That's where the Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle can help. Our Georgia school bus accident legal professionals have decades of experience working with victims of Georgia bus accident injuries to ensure that they get fair compensation for their losses. Please contact us today for a confidential free consultation, either at our main Gwinnett County law office in Duluth, or at one of our convenient satellite offices in Decatur, Buckhead or the Perimeter. There is absolutely no obligation for this visit, and it may just be the most important step you take to get your family's life back on track.