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Roundup: Seat Belt Debate Blooms in Sunflower State and More

Like many other states affected by the recent wave of deadly school bus crashes, a bill was filed in the Kansas Legislature that would require new school buses in the Sunflower State to have seat belts on every seat.

Kansas joined Tennessee as the latest state to push for a law to require seat belts on school buses. Six other states already have the requirement.

Since the deaths of six elementary schoolchildren in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in November, the seat belt debate has raged in a number of legislatures nationwide. Authorities investigating the Chattanooga crash have blamed the bus driver for the accident.

If passed, the Kansas bill would lead to higher costs for the purchase of school buses. According to Russell Miller, assistant superintendent of finance for $373, the bill could add upwards of $10,000 to the cost of a new school bus.

House Bill 2008 was pre-filed by state Rep. Susie Swanson. The bill requires all buses purchased after Jan. 1, 2018, to have seat belts on all seats. It does not require the retrofitting of buses already on the road.

Against his better judgment or any judgment, for that matter, a Philadelphia school bus driver, according to police, picked up a 7-year-old student at his school, and instead of taking him home, stopped to get a money order and, in the process, left the boy alone on the bus.

School bus driver Jamar Henry, 28, currently faces charges of endangering the welfare of a child after being arrested outside a local ShopRite.

Police said Henry scooped up the boy from school and drove him to the supermarket. With the engine still running, he told the child to wait on the bus while he went inside.

The abandoned boy was spotted by a passerby who alerted the police. When authorities arrived, Henry darted out of the store, claiming the stop was because he had to use the bathroom. Surveillance video proved otherwise.

The footage showed the bus driver waiting in the customer-service line inside the store before he eventually began filling out a transaction slip for a Western Union money order.

Henry was also charged with possession of marijuana after cops found about a gram of pot in his coat pocket, though police were quick to point out that he did not appear to be under the influence at the time of his arrest.

The boy was returned to his parents unharmed. As if there was any question, school officials reported that Henry is no longer employed by the bus company.

Twenty-nine Knoxville, Tennessee, students are safe after their school bus erupted in flames. The bus driver, who the students know as ‘Bud,’ noticed the fire at an intersection and pulled over to get the kids off the bus.

“(You) hate to start a morning like that, but it turned out pretty well,” said Alcoa City Schools Director Brian Bell.

The students on the bus were from Alcoa Elementary, Intermediate, Middle and High School.

Damien Cothern and Cesar Perez go to the Intermediate School, and they were sitting in the front seat of Alcoa City School Bus #47E when they both heard a loud pop as the bus was driving down Center Street.

“It was loud enough for everyone on the bus to hear it. The bus driver heard it,” Cothern said.

“It sounded like a gunshot, really,” Perez said, adding that, “I want to say thank you to Bud for keeping us safe.”

Shortly after everyone was off the bus, it burst into flames.

“High flames. Black smoke. It was like the skeleton of the bus,” said Kathleen Hardy-Cothern, Damien’s grandmother. She lives across the street from where the bus caught fire.

A school bus rolled over on a highway in Waltham, Massachusetts, with 22 middle school students on board.

State Police said the bus was involved in a crash with a pickup truck and the bus then rolled over the guard rail. Emergency crews quickly arrived and evacuate everyone from the bus, safely.

Ten students were taken to Boston Children’s Hospital with minor injuries and the other 12 were sent to Newton-Wellesley and St. Elizabeth’s hospitals for evaluation.

Police said they are currently investigating the cause of the crash.

May 2023

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