New video recounts mid-Missouri tragedy
Thu, 26 Jul 2012 15:05:01 GMT —
With another school year just weeks away, the tragic story of a mid-Missouri boy who was run over and killed by his school bus last year is the focus of a new video on bus driver safety.
Hunter Pitt was six years old and a student at North Callaway School when, in January of 2011, his life was cut short by a terrible accident.
Kim Yancey's emotional testimony about the impact of her son's death is a big part of the video, which was produced by the Missouri Department of Public Safety and the Missouri School Boards Association for the student transportation industry.
"Where do we go from here? How do we move forward?," Yancey asks of the viewer. "It takes all we have just to keep breathing sometimes."
The video recounts how Hunter had climbed off the school bus at the end of the day and disappeared from the driver's view. Perhaps even more powerful than the comments from the boy's mother is the appearance in the video of bus driver Willie Leonberger.
"I took a little boy's life all because I lost focus on what I was doing," Leonberger tells the viewer
A fifteen-year veteran driver, Leonberger was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, was placed on five years probation, sentenced to 100 hours of community service, and lost his driving privileges.
In the video, he explains how his other students were being disruptive on the bus and how his attention was distracted as he rolled away from Hunter's stop.
The boy ended up under the bus wheels.
"Don't let the children distract you," Leonberger pleads. "Because, if you do, you are an accident waiting to happen."
Gary Moore of the public safety department's education division says the early response to the video has been positive.