First Posted: 1/15/2009
PEMBROKE - The driver of a Robeson County bus that struck a 13-year-old boy on a bicycle last week has been charged with hit-and-run.
The boy, Austin Kent Lowery, was not seriously hurt.
School officials have suspended the bus driver, Virginia Hunt. She was charged with failure to reduce speed and leaving the scene of an accident, a misdemeanor, according to Trooper R.D. Wright of the state Highway Patrol.
Hunt, 50, of Pembroke, was carrying 17 students from Purnell Swett High School. She declined to comment when reached Monday afternoon.
The report said the accident happened at 3:30 p.m. on May 11 in front of Union Day Care on Ambay Road, near Union Chapel Elementary School. The bus was traveling about 25 mph.
Raymond Cummings, the transportation director for the Public Schools of Robeson County, said Hunt told him that the boys were in the middle of the road. Cummings said that Ambay Road is a narrow street that doesn't have center lines.
“She said there were kids on both sides and she drove in the center to miss the bicycle,” Cummings said.
Cummings said Ambay Road is a dead-end road and Hunt didn't have anyway to turn around and that's why she temporarily left the scene.
“She eventually turned around and talked to the mother of the child,” he said.
Selina Demery, who works at the day care, witnessed the accident.
“The bus driver came through and blew her horn, but she didn't slow down,” Demery said. “They were scattering to get out of the way.”
The report said Lowery was straddling his bike when the bus struck a back tire. The report said Lowery was thrown from the bicycle, but it did not indicate how far. He was taken to Southeastern Regional Medical Center and treated and released.
Cummings said Hunt reported the accident to Principal Wesley Revels when she returned to school. Cummings said he didn't report it to the Highway Patrol because he couldn't substantiate what happened.
“You've got to confirm what happened in order to report an accident,” he said. “We couldn't substantiate anything. We kept hearing different stories. This is sad for the bus driver.”