Local News

Investigation Continues Into Deadly Chatham County School Bus Accident

Posted February 20, 2002

— There is no word yet as to whether charges will be filed in a crash in Chatham County that killed a five-year-old boy and injured his stepbrother.

Terrance Howard and his stepbrother, 9-year-old Monterris Davis, were crossing the road to catch the school bus, when a pickup truck driven by Willie Blu Johnson hit him.

Howard died instantly. Davis is at UNC Hospitals with minor injuries. Witnesses say when the incident happened, the bus' warning lights were flashing, but that it had not come to a complete stop when the boys crossed the road. If that is the case, Johnson may not have broken the law.

"It becomes a violation when the stop-arm has completely extended with the red lights flashing," said Vern Hatley, transportation director for Wake County Schools.

School bus drivers often flash amber warning lights on their vehicles to let other motorists know of their intention to stop. However, in cases when schoolkids have to cross the street to get on the bus, Hatley said no one should depend on warning lights or stop signs.

"The children are told not to make any move toward the bus until they have gotten a signal from the school bus driver," he said.

Troopers from the state Highway Patrol are still investigating the incident. After their investigation is complete, the district attorney will decide whether to file charges.


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