A Pickering, Ont. mother says she was “terrified” to discover her 10-year-old daughter had nearly been hit by a car while getting off a school bus on the family’s quiet side-street, and is speaking out in hopes of encouraging other parents to keep a closer eye on their children.
Melissa Hillier said her daughter Rebecca exited a Stock Transportation school bus and walked across Shadybrook Drive in Pickering after leaving Gandatsetiagon Public School on the afternoon of Sept. 29, when a neighbour’s security camera captured the car nearly striking the little girl.
“I was terrified when I heard my daughter screaming when we ran out to see her to find out what was going on,” Hillier told Global News, adding that the car grazed her daughter’s backpack.
“Thankfully it didn’t hit her. There was no impact on her. But when I came to the corner there was no bus driver, there was no car, I had no idea what was going on. At that point I went home and called 911.”
Hillier said she spoke with Durham Regional Police who initially told her to report the incident online.
“It wasn’t until our neighbour across the street here that had video surveillance of the incident contacted me and said, ‘I saw the video, I can’t believe it. Let me give you a copy,”” she said.
“I went to their house, I watched the video and I was speechless — I started to cry. It was horrific watching it for the first time and it still turns my stomach every time I see it.”
Hillier said the school bus driver had allegedly waved her daughter on to walk across the street and didn’t stop to check on her daughter after the incident.
“I think there are multiple faults. I’m not telling my story to directly point fingers at anybody. I want to create awareness that — people when you see a school bus in a school zone, slow down,” Hillier said.
“The bus driver shouldn’t have waved her across, putting the stop sign in and yes my daughter should have stopped and looked before crossing, so there’s lots of things happened that could have went very wrong.”
A spokeswoman for Stock Transportation said student safety was the company’s “top priority” and it is sharing the incident with its other drivers as a “safety reminder.”
“Given this week is celebrated as School Bus Safety Week, a campaign to help raise awareness of student safety as they travel to and from school, our focus remains on reminding all – drivers, students and motorists – that everyone has a role to play in safe student transportation,” spokeswoman Molly Hart said.
WATCH: Ontario mom ‘terrified’ after video shows young daughter almost hit getting off bus
Hillier said police told her the driver of the speeding car that almost struck Rebecca is aware of the situation and he had reported the incident to police.
“He almost hit my daughter and admitted to not stopping,” she said. “That makes me really mad. What if he had hit her and he left her there injured?”
Hillier said she contacted the principal at Gandatsetiagon Public School, who was very concerned about the incident. She added that Stock Transportation did not respond to her email containing the video of the incident.
“No communication whatsoever. That’s when I decided that I needed to go to the media to raise awareness because I was being ignored,” she said.
“If she had walked across the street [instead if running] it would have been devastating. If my younger daughter had crossed behind her like she normally does, three steps behind, she would have been impacted as well.
“Sixteen students at one bus stop; there were still more to cross.”
Hillier said she’s using the video to raise awareness and make drivers think twice about slowing down and paying attention.
“Maybe the bus companies need to look at their safety protocol. Are they training their employees properly? Are the employees listening to how they should be handling students getting on and off the school bus?” she said.
“Maybe the schools need to train the students, remind them throughout the year, not just in September that they need to stop and look before they cross the street as well.”