I read this blog/opinion from sphere on aol. I wanted to share it. This is something that has to have stiff penalties for and school buses should be equipped with video cameras to identify those that refuse to stop for stopped school buses.
Finding Meaning — and a Cause — in Our Son’s Death
Special to Sphere
(Jan. 22) — On a cold Friday afternoon, Dec. 11, 2009, my life was forever changed.
The day started like any other, as we got our family up and each of our children to school. The afternoon rolled around, and I waited, as I did every school day, for my precious 5-year-old son, Nathaniel Glenn Key, to hop off the bus and come happily home.
Courtesy of Lori Key
Nathan Key was killed as he was getting off his school bus by a driver who decided to pass the stopped bus.
But that day, a driver decided to recklessly pass and ignore the school bus’ flashing red lights and stop sign and drive around it.
He hit and killed Nathan, just a few feet from our house, just days before Christmas.
The pain my husband and I have experienced is unbelievable and seemingly unendurable. Our memories of him are too few. I would give anything just to have him back in my life, if only for a moment.
But we have endured, barely.
In the natural course of events, life develops a cycle of normalcy. As part of life’s cycle, belabored justifications of death are occasionally used for comfort when we lose our elderly friends or family, but such subtle consolation does not easily extend to the death of a child. The old expect to die and leave their children behind, and we were no different.
For us, the world has become a much darker place, with dimly lit mornings that seem less smiling. In our small community, aching emptiness abounds, and sympathetic hearts blindly search for an answer to perhaps the most difficult of life’s questions.
It has now become the goal of my family — our obsession — to make sure this type of accident never happens again. No other family should have to suffer from what we have experienced.
And though I’m painfully aware that no law can prevent each and every accident, I am dedicated to making sure that something positive comes from Nathan’s death.
What we have learned since has been deeply troubling. Every school day, thousands upon thousands of cars drive around stopped school buses. In Virginia alone it happens about 600,000 times a year, according to one study. A New York study found that 50,000 times a day drivers didn’t stop for a school bus that was letting children on or off.
As a result, 18 children — most of them under age 8 — were killed last school year while getting on or off a school bus, according to a national survey by the Kansas State Department of Education.
One of the big problems is that in many states the penalty for failing to stop for a school bus is weak and enforcement is lax. In my home state of Mississippi, a violator faces only a small fine — in the rare event that he or she is caught red-handed.
Nathan Key memorial
Courtesy of Lori Key
This makeshift memorial to Nathan stands on the side of the road where he was killed.
This madness has to stop.
My husband and I have been working with Mississippi Sen. Chris McDaniel to develop a comprehensive school bus safety act — called “Nathan’s Law.”
This law would, among other things, raise the fine for a first offense to $500 for passing a stopped school bus, in addition to license suspension for a period of 30 days and discretionary imprisonment for up to 48 hours.
For any subsequent violation, the fine would climb to $800, plus a 90-day license suspension and the possibility of one year in prison. A driver who injured a child while passing a stopped bus could face up to five years in jail.
The law would also encourage a statewide marketing campaign to educate our citizens concerning the new law and the importance of school bus safety. More important, it would authorize school districts to mount cameras on their stop arms to help catch lawbreakers.
This law isn’t just needed in my home state. Tougher penalties and better enforcement are needed around the country.
For the sake and safety of other children, we must take action to help prevent this type of event from ever happening again.
It’s my prayer that something positive will come from such a senseless tragedy. I hope that Nathan’s life and death will serve to inspire safety reforms all across our country.
Perhaps then we will be able to see God’s purpose, even in our heartbreak.
Lori Key lives in Laurel, Miss.