Boy, 12, fatally hit by school bus

April 20, 1994|By Michael James and Mary Maushard | Michael James and Mary Maushard,Sun Staff Writers

A 12-year-old hearing-impaired boy was struck and killed by a school bus that had just dropped him off in front of his Woodlawn home yesterday afternoon, Baltimore County police said.

School officials said the boy, Kawon Cordia West, was struck about 4 p.m. while chasing a piece of paper that had blown out of his hand moments after he got off the bus in the 6700 block of Kincheloe Ave.

Kawon, who lived in the same block, died at the scene of a massive head injury after being run over by the left front wheel of the bus, said E. Jay Miller, a police spokesman.

"The child ran in front of the bus as the bus pulled forward. [Kawon's] father saw the accident occur from the window of the house and tried to yell to the driver, who didn't hear him," Mr. Miller said.

The 79-year-old bus driver, Joseph Zysk, of the first block of Elkhart Court in Baltimore County, never saw the boy, police and school officials said. Mr. Zysk has a clean driving record and is a veteran bus driver for the county school system, said Rita Fromm, transportation coordinator for the schools.

Kawon was a student at Villa Cresta Elementary School in Parkville, Ms. Fromm said, and was riding the bus with about five other special education students.

She said she has spoken to the families of four of the five children, and today crisis intervention counselors will be at their schools to offer whatever counseling they need.

"I don't know of any other time in our history that this has happened," Ms. Fromm said, referring to a child being killed by a county school bus. She said that Mr. Zysk has been a solid driver for the school system and is not the only driver older than 70.

Age is not a factor in considering someone's ability to drive a bus, Ms. Fromm said. Mr. Zysk has no driving points or citations in the last three years, according to state Motor Vehicle Administration records.

Police said the accident is under investigation.

School bus safety policies became a heated issue in the county after the January 1993 death of Joey Vinci, 11, who was struck by a car as he crossed Old York Road to catch a school bus.

His mother, Ann Vinci, had sought a comprehensive change in the way school buses pick up and let off students, arguing that buses should wait, with red lights flashing, while children cross roads.

The legislature approved an amended version of the bill, which requires county school buses traveling on high-speed roads to pick up and discharge students on the side of the road where they live.

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