Local News

Bus Driver Charged After Boy Dragged 100 Feet

Posted October 25, 2007 2:36 p.m. EDT
Updated October 25, 2007 6:50 p.m. EDT

— A Lee County school bus driver has been charged with careless and reckless driving after a first-grader was dragged by the bus about 100 feet Wednesday, police said.

Six-year-old Gabriel Venegas was getting off the school bus Wednesday afternoon at the intersection of Placid Lane and Oakcrest Drive when the door to the bus slammed shut on his backpack and the bus started off again, said Gabriel's mother, Virginia Venegas, who witnessed the incident.

"He just started screaming and running behind the bus," Venegas said, adding that he tried to lift and hold his feet off the ground as hung from the side of the bus. "I said, 'Wait! My son, my son! Wait!'"

Gabriel, a student at J. Glenn Edwards Elementary School, said he was scared and yelled until the bus stopped.

After Gabriel and his backpack were freed from the bus, Venegas said, she hugged him tightly.

"I held my son, and I was crying and I was scared," she said.

She took the boy to Central Carolina Hospital as a precaution at the urging of Edwards Elementary's principal and assistant principal. He suffered a small bruise on his knee and a torn shirt and pants.

Barry Sutton Bristow, 55, won't be allowed to drive a school bus while Lee County Schools officials review the incident, district administrators said. They haven't determined what disciplinary action to take in the case.

"I would hope he has an explanation for me when we meet," Superintendent Jim McCormick said. "It's something that shouldn't have happened."

Bristow, a veteran bus driver, didn't finish his route Wednesday afternoon after the incident, which is standard district procedure, McCormick said.

The school sent letters home with all students Thursday to inform them of the incident.