An 8-year-old third-grader is clinging to life in the trauma unit of Medical College of Georgia Hospital in Augusta after being hit by a truck at a school bus stop Tuesday morning, authorities say.
Trooper First Class Willie Ramsey of the Georgia State Patrol post in Grovetown identified the student as Cassius Walker, who attends Thomson Elementary School.
The accident occurred shortly after 7 a.m. in front of the boy's residence on the 1300 block of Mesena Road where he was waiting on school bus 95-4 to pick him up.
Trooper Ramsey said his investigation revealed that the boy had entered the roadway from his driveway to get on the school bus.
Personnel with the McDuffie County Emergency Medical Services and McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services performed CPR on Cassius just minutes after the accident. He was taken to the emergency room of McDuffie Regional Medical Center in Thomson before being flown by helicopter to MCG.
Cassius still was listed in critical condition Wednesday morning.
The driver of the bus, Jessie Lee Ivey, of the 400 block of Shiloh Road, Thomson, has been a school bus driver with the McDuffie County Board of Education for 34 years.
Trooper Ramsey identified the driver of the 1984 Chevrolet S-10 pickup that hit Cassius as Wayman Brown, 50, of the 200 block of Dunn Street, Thomson.
The trooper said Mr. Brown was traveling westbound on Mesena Road, while Mr. Ivey was driving the bus eastbound.
Both drivers gave conflicting versions about what happened.
Mr. Brown said the bus had never stopped. "It was still rolling and the stop sign wasn't out."
At the time, Mr. Brown and a passenger, Richard Dozier, of Thomson, were going to work in Camak.
"My bus was stopped and the stop sign was out," Mr. Ivey said. "That boy got hit trying to cross the road to get on the bus. Just look at the skid marks."
The investigation has been turned over to a trooper with the Georgia State Patrol's Specialized Reconstructive Collision Team. Cpl. Gary Lunsford is heading that probe.
No charges had been filed as of Wednesday morning. Representatives of the Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office also came to the scene Tuesday morning.
The school bus had 35 students on board. They were transferred onto another school bus and taken to the auditorium of Thomson High School where they received attention from counselors and local clergy, according to McDuffie County School Superintendent Jim LeBrun. The children who witnessed the accident were released to their parents and did not attend classes on Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, the accident was witnessed by several students on the bus that was close to the scene," Mr. LeBrun said later in a prepared statement. "We immediately activated our crisis intervention plan. These students were transported to an isolated location to meet with our school counselors, social workers, school psychologists and administrators."
Mr. LeBrun said counselors and clergy would be available at area schools for the next several days.
"Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with the student involved in the accident, as well as his family," Mr. LeBrun said.