A 9-year-old boy suffered life-threatening injuries when a pickup truck driver struck him and fled the scene. The hit-and-run pedestrian crash happened on the afternoon of September 23, 2021, at a school bus stop near the border of Henry and Pittsylvania counties in southwestern Virginia.
State Police received calls about the collision at 3:39 pm. Troopers then responded to the incident in the 8000 block of VA Route 57, which is known locally as Callands Road, between the communities of Rondo and Hollywood. They found the boy in critical condition and had him flown by helicopter to a hospital in Roanoke.
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Video recorded by a camera on the school bus captured the hit-and-run driver’s vehicle, and law enforcement officials succeeded in tracking down and arresting a suspect. The 57-year-old Martinsville resident who is believed to have been behind the wheel of the pickup involved in the crash currently faces a single charge of hit and run resulting in injuries. Other charges may follow.
Drivers Must Stop for Students as Well as School Buses
The young victim had just stepped off the bus when the pickup truck driver hit him. News reports on the incident provide few details, but the location of the bus stop is alongside a two-lane rural highway divided only by a broken double yellow line. In order to put himself in the path of any oncoming vehicles, the student would have had to deboard and cross in front of the bus.
In that scenario, the school bus would have remained parked with its side-mounted stop sign extended and warning lights flashing. All drivers approaching in the opposite lane then had legal duties to stop and wait until the bus driver took in the sign. State law is quite clear on this.
Section 46.2-859 of the Virginia Code states, in part,
A person driving a motor vehicle shall stop such vehicle when approaching, from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons, and shall remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road or school driveway and the bus is put in motion; any person violating the foregoing is guilty of reckless driving.
We cannot know why the person in the pickup failed to follow such a clear and well-known rule of the road. We do know that an elementary school student nearly lost his life due to recklessness, impatience, distraction or some other preventable behavior.
As parents ourselves, my Virginia personal injury law firm colleagues send our heartfelt wishes for a full and quick recovery to the young victim of this highly preventable crash. We also urge all drivers to stop for school buses and to exercise ultimate care when traveling through school zone and approaching bus stops. All kids deserve everyone’s protection.