VSP Investigate Fatal Crash at School Bus Stop in Buckingham County
Virginia State Police are investigating a fatal crash at a school bus stop in Buckingham County. Troopers say two children were struck and killed by a tractor-trailer while approaching a school bus.
BUCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - A small community just outside Dillwyn in Buckingham County is grieving the loss of two children.
Five-year-old Tori Perez and 6-year-old Jaiden Bartee died Thursday morning after being struck by a tractor-trailer.
Family members say the two children were cousins. Both were students at Buckingham County Primary School.
Virginia State Police say Tori and Jaiden were waiting at their bus stop on Route 15, near Baptist Union Road, with four other students.
According to investigators, the school bus was traveling south, coming over a hill on Route 15, and slowing for a bus stop on the north side of the road. Tori and Jaiden ran across the road to the bus as it was slowing to a stop. The bus only had its yellow lights flashing at the time.
An oncoming tractor-trailer in the northbound lane immediately hit the brakes. It was transporting 75,000 pounds of mulch and in a 50-mile per hour zone.
The family says an uncle was at the bus stop waiting for the children to board. He and the bus driver tried to stop Tori and Jaiden, but it happened too fast.
The two children were hit by the tractor-trailer, both died at the scene.
"There was nobody at fault, and the thing happened so quickly. You can imagine children dart and move very quickly. The bus had not come to a complete stop. The tractor trailer was coming downhill," said Corinne Geller with the Virginia State Police.
Buckingham County School Superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead said nothing like this has ever happened before.
"It was a great weight and a sad sadness that I still haven't really reconciled with yet," he said.
The school board is doing what they can to provide support to the students, family, and community.
"We've deployed school psychologists counselors. We've had help from around our surrounding counties," said Snead.
They say the next steps from here are to work through the grief and prevent this from happening again.
"We've had a tragedy in our school community, and we're working through that, and to reassure parents that there are support services in place for their kids tomorrow," the superintendent said.
Virginia State Police say based on witness accounts and their investigation, the 66-year-old driver of the tractor-trailer is not facing charges. Investigators say both the truck and the driver were in compliance with state regulations.