Young girl survives injuries after being struck by bus
Published 9:13 am Thursday, November 6, 2014
A six-year-old girl is in a local hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries after being struck by a Carter County school bus early Wednesday morning.
The accident happened shortly before 7 a.m. on Dry Creek Road, just off of Gap Creek Road. The young girl, identified as Aleah Fields, darted into the path of the oncoming bus and was struck, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Noah Click, one of the officers investigating the accident.
“She was struck by the front of the bus and passed all the way underneath the bus, coming out the back,” Click said. “We are very fortunate that the wheels did not run over her. Her being small in stature basically saved her life.”
Fields was flown to the Johnson City Medical Center by Wings Air Rescue for treatment of her injuries, which Click said included a broken arm, broken leg and a broken collar bone.
During the course of the investigation, Click said he learned the girl had ridden the bus previously, but wasn’t a frequent passenger on the route.
He said as the driver of the bus, identified as 77-year-old Ornel Burker, approached the bus stop, he was looking for children who ride the bus daily, and who live in a home on the other side of the road.
While Burker was watching for those children, the girl stepped into the path of the vehicle from the opposite side of the street.
Click said there were no apparent signs the driver was under the influence of any substance but for procedural issues the driver was transported to the hospital to undergo a blood test.
Charges in the accident are pending at this time.
“We will present our findings to the District Attorney’s office,” Click said, adding it could be several days or even weeks before the results of the blood test are known.
Burker has been “suspended pending the investigation” said Wayne Sams, manager of the Carter County school bus garage. Burker has been employed with the Carter County School System for 11 years.
Sams responded to the scene of the accident Wednesday morning and said he had also visited the child in the hospital.
“This little girl has some injuries but they are not life-threatening, which is a blessing,” Sams said. “The Lord was with that little girl.”
The site of the accident was the first stop on the bus route, Sams said, adding there were no children on the bus at the time.