Local News

Family of 11-year-old hit by car in 2014 suing WCPSS

Posted June 16

— The family of an 11-year-old who was hit by a car while getting on a school bus in southern Wake County in 2014 is suing the driver who hit him and the school system.

Michael Burgess Jr., a sixth-grader at West Lake Middle School in Apex, was getting on his school bus on Johnson Pond Road when, authorities say, a teen driver hit him with her car and knocked him into a roadside ditch.

Three years later, parents in his neighborhood say the school bus stop is still exactly where it was.

To get on and off the bus students have to cross busy Johnson Pond Road.

Michael Burgess

The Burgess family is now suing the Wake County Public School System. Attorneys for the family say the placement of the bus stop was the school system's choice.

"The time that Michael was injured, he had to cross a 45 mph road when it was dark outside, and according to some folks, foggy," said Shawn Howard, the family's attorney. "Which is obviously a much more dangerous set of circumstances for him and the other children."

But one mother who lives in this community disagrees. She thinks the bus stop is safe, because of how attentive the bus driver is.

"If the bus driver doesn't do the sign, they don't walk," said Lauren Hernandez. "If the bus driver does the sign, they walk."

Burgess survived, but suffered a skull fracture, a severe concussion, a broken ankle and cuts and bruises all over his body.

His family and his attorneys hope the lawsuit might protect other children from being in the same situation.

A spokesperson with Wake County Public Schools said they could not comment on the lawsuit because it is currently pending.

Howard said the lawsuit against the driver "has basically been resolved, it just has to be approved by a judge sometime in the next couple of months." He would not say what the resolution was.


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  • Diamond Rio Jun 18, 10:19 a.m.
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    So the parents are all safety-minded 'after the accident'. Why weren't they before? But the real problem is their 'unnamed lawyers' who is just trying to line more money in their pockets, not the victims. Typical ambulance chasers!

  • Kellie Page Jun 18, 8:29 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    I don't think it says to sue the bus driver anywhere. The driver being sued is the teen driver of the car and the Wake County School system.

  • Jeffrey Derry Jun 17, 11:57 a.m.
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    Colleges continue to pump out too many #hungrylawyers

  • Tanja Davidson Jun 17, 9:59 a.m.
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    I don't understand people agreeing that they should sue the bus driver. What did he/she do wrong? If they followed the 12 pt bus stop rules and had the sign out then it's the driver of the car who should be sued. The bus driver was following what they had been told and was using the stop that they had been assigned to use. Don't get why they should be sued at all.

  • Jeff Freuler Jun 17, 7:34 a.m.
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    It's sad the child was injured however, this is another case of someone going after the deeper pocket

  • Daryl Mac Jun 16, 9:46 p.m.
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    Teen don't have deep pockets .. the know WCPSS had a 16 million dollar surplus.. they'll drop the case on the teen once the school settles for hundreds of thousands.

  • Henry Cooper Jun 16, 9:40 p.m.
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    We don't have enough bus drivers to go into every neighborhood. The WCPSS job site shows "Bus Driver" is constantly open. Next problem is there are more people moving into Wake County than the bus and school system can keep up with (that is part of the pains of being so attractive as a place to live).

    Parents do not have to use the bus system if they feel it is not safe in its current config because even if they wanted to stop everywhere the resources are just not there.

    On a foggy morn parents could stand with your kids at the bus stop. We wouldn't let an 11yo's do so many things that are dangerous without a parent present but more often than not they are standing roadside with no adult which is probably more dangerous as all those other times they have a chaperone.

    Resources, resources, resources....

  • Janet Scott Jun 16, 9:17 p.m.
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    Agree with the people who are blaming the parents. Who would allow a child to walk across 45mph traffic in the dark when it was foggy!!!!

  • Dawn Navarro Jun 16, 8:20 p.m.
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    I live out in trailer park where Michael was hit by a young driver. I have lived in the park for over 20 years. In years past, the bus stop was in the park, off the main road. My child was picked up @ the intersection of Oak Park & Oak Tree. A safe dustance from the busy morning commute. Lincoln Heights ES bus also entered the park and picked up students for their school. I petitioned /requested the WLMS bus to return to the Oak Park/Oak Tree stop. The bus department declined my request. It is unfortunate that children's safety is not valued. It could have very easily been my child who was hit that morning. WCPSS should reconsider their decision of the bus location. Safety should always be a priority.

  • Eric Rothman Jun 16, 8:16 p.m.
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    This puts such a bad taste in your mouth about the story. The poor kid! They should sue the driver that hit him. But then to somehow say WCPSS is to blame completely delegitimizes their public opinion. Now they look like complete fools. I am so sorry for the child and what his parents had to go through. But this lawsuit against WCPSS is what's wrong with our society.