The Raleigh community is in mourning after a six-year-old schoolgirl was killed after getting off of her school bus on Wednesday afternoon, August 19. Raleigh police told reporters that elementary school student Ashley Ramos was hit by an 83-year-old woman driving an SUV. Initial reports indicated that the senior, Geraldine Baron Deitz, passed the stopped school bus in her SUV and struck the child as she crossed the street.
Although a Raleigh police report states that the elderly woman stated that the bus driver did not properly signal as she should at a bus stop, a number of witnesses told police that the bus driver did use her warning signals when letting the child off of the bus. Deitz was not speeding at the time of the accident. Ramos attended Green Elementary School.
The accident has rekindled an ongoing debate about the safety of senior and elderly drivers in North Carolina. Some, like Rep. William McGee, a Forsyth County Republican, believe that the North Carolina pedestrian accident would not have taken place if the state shortened license renewal terms for those over 75 and required road tests for elderly drivers. Advocates for the elderly, however, have resisted such bills in the past.
NC police say that Deitz faces misdemeanor charges of death by motor vehicle and passing a stopped bus. In the last ten years, eight North Carolina students have been killed by vehicles that pass school buses. The average age of the driver in these pedestrian accidents was 46 years old.