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Bus driver disciplined after leaving sleeping child behind; second driver faces traffic charges following hit-and-run

Two unrelated incidents with McDuffie County school bus drivers ended with both drivers being disciplined and one facing traffic charges.

According to Georgia State Patrol Trooper Ben Rollins, a McDuffie County school bus hit a parked truck on Harrison Drive. Trooper Rollins said the driver knocked on the door of the house where the truck was parked, and informed the person who answered the door to call the police and file an accident report. Then, the driver left without giving anymore information. Trooper Rollins said he "gave the driver a day to turn himself in," before going to arrest him.

According to Trooper Rollins, driver Edward Gates was charged with hit and run, making an improper U-turn and leaving the scene of an accident.

In a separate incident, a six-year-old was sleeping on a bus during the morning drop-offs and was left unattended on the bus at the bus shop for several hours, according to the child's grandmother. Pat Germany said her granddaughter got on the bus at 7 a.m. Friday, Aug. 10, and was found at 11:30 a.m. in the bus shop. Ms. Germany said the family is grateful the situation had a happy ending.

"I'm glad nothing really didn't happen," she said. "I just hope they make sure nothing like this happens again."

According to Superintendent Mark Petersen, the bus driver at fault was "normally one of our better drivers," and the incident was an "unfortunate mishap." Ms. Germany said the child was checked by the school nurse and by her doctor and she is fine. Assistant Superintendent Jim Franklin said the driver was suspended.

To prevent future incidents, child reminders have been ordered for each bus in the county. Dr. Petersen said the reminders will be installed on the back of each bus, requiring the driver to walk to the back of the bus and turn off a buzzer after they have turned off the ignition. Dr. Petersen said each buzzer costs $139.

In an interview, Dr. Petersen said both incidents are unfortunate, and he appreciates all the bus drivers.

"They complete their Commercial Drivers License training, and they could go make three times more driving trucks without having to put up with all they do on the bus," he said.



Web posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007













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