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7-Year-Old Kansas Student Killed in Illegal School Bus Passing Incident

A 7-year-old student was hit and killed by an illegally passing vehicle while attempting to board her school bus just east of Abilene, Kansas.

Cecilia Graf was struck by a 2008 Ford Focus the morning of Sept. 9. Her school bus was reportedly stopped on the highway facing west. An early investigation indicates that the bus driver had activated the federally mandated emergency warning lights and stop arm.

The Ford Focus was driven by 15-year-old Allison Abeldt, 15, the Dickson County Sheriff’s Department stated in a press release. The release does not indicate if Abeldt was driving alone, and School Transportation News had not received a reply at this writing regarding that question from the sheriff.

But Kansas state law allows 15-year-olds who have completed the required driver education courses to drive without supervision to work and school. Kansas is also one of the nine states that allow children to start driving with a learner’s permit before the age of 15.


Related: Texas School Bus Driver’s Death Ruled Suicide Following Student Crossing Injury
Related: Indiana Continues Battle Against Illegal Passing of School Buses
Related: NHTSA to Conduct School Bus Illegal Passing Surveys
Related: School Bus Seatbelts, Illegal Passing Included in Federal Transportation Infrastructure Proposal


Graf was transported to Abilene Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Local media reports reported that Graf was a first-grader at St. Andrew’s Elementary School. School Transportation News reached out to the school for more information but had not heard back at this writing.

The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol. The departments are looking to determine any and all contributing factors surrounding the “tragic accident,” the release stated.

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