ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — Two bus drivers took matters into their own hands when they boxed in a vehicle that passed a stopped school bus, which nearly hit a child and a crossing guard, according to Rocky River police.
Shortly after 8 a.m. on Oct. 30, a caller reported a driver passed a stopped school bus in the 1600 block Lakeview Avenue in Rocky River. Rocky River police said they cited the 27-year-old for reckless operation of a motor vehicle for the incident.
Video from the bus
Video from the Rocky River City School District bus shows the crossing guard and a child in the crosswalk, as a white Range Rover drives past the bus and through the crosswalk, then continues down Lakeview Avenue without stopping.
The crossing guard was able to stop the child behind her as the vehicle drove past. That crossing guard told News 5 on Tuesday that she was just doing her job in that moment.
The child involved was a student at Saint Christopher School, and from his office at the school, John Yakim, the facilities director, said he heard a scream from the teacher who was outside as a bus monitor.
"I didn't see it, but I had chills running up and down my spine cause I envisioned if that was my child," Yakim said.
Yakim said he chased the Range Rover and spoke to the driver, telling her he had a photo of her license plate and that she needed to stay and wait for police.
"I said, 'You know, you almost hit a child,' and she goes, 'Yeah, I know, I'm sick about it. I'm gonna throw up,'" Yakim said. "And I go, 'I understand that, but you still, that wouldn't have helped that child. You would have killed her.'"
According to Rocky River police, school buses also blocked the driver from leaving the area until police arrived.
Passing a stopped school bus is against the law
According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, "under the Ohio Revised Code, failure to stop for a stopped school bus (meaning it has stopped and its red lights are activated) can be punishable with a fine up to $500 and the citation is a mandatory court appearance."
The driver's license can also be suspended for this violation by a court or mayor.
Ohio State Highway Patrol also said that under Ohio law, "the school bus operator can file a complaint with their local police, or highway patrol within their jurisdiction, and the violator can be cited under this complaint." That means the officer does not have to witness the violation personally.
Drivers must also give space to buses. According to OSHP, "the danger zone for a school bus is within a 10’ perimeter of the bus. The most dangerous area for a school bus is the front and rear as the bus driver’s visibility is limited due to the size of their vehicle. Other motorists need to give the school bus space as being in the danger zone is not only hazardous for the school bus and its occupants, but for the motoring public as well. Drivers need to see the warning lights when they are activated in order to stop for them. Being in the danger zone limits their visibility as well."
An ongoing problem
"We are thankful that no one was harmed and commend the crossing guard for her quick reaction to the situation," Rocky River City School District wrote in a statement. "We hope this video helps motorists to realize the dangers of passing a stopped school bus and ask all drivers to remain vigilant in school zones and around stopped school buses."
In May 2019, two children were hit by a driver who passed a stopped school bus in Willowick.
Earlier this year, both Avon Lake and Parma passed laws that made penalties tougher for drivers who pass stopped school buses.
Jennifer Glass, a parent whose son attends Rocky River Middle School across from Saint Christopher, said she believes the penalty for passing a stopped school bus should be stiff.
"It is shocking and it's very dangerous, and I can't say I've seen it personally," Glass said. "I can believe that it happens. I've heard it happens, I've heard people see it happen."
John Yakim said he was glad no one was hurt.
“If she would've killed that child, that's something she would have had to live with for the rest of her life," Yakim said.