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Community calling for change after teen is hit, killed by school bus

Posted at 5:02 PM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 18:47:11-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — There are calls for change following the death of a 15-year-old girl after she was hit by a school bus in West Palm Beach on Wednesday.

As the investigation into the crash continues, some people are raising questions about safety for students walking in the dark every morning to the bus stop.

At the corner of Elmhurst and Haverhill Roads, Natasha Dwyer’s two younger sisters visited a growing memorial Thursday afternoon, which sits only feet from where the teenager was hit by the school bus before sunrise on Wednesday morning.

“It was a dark rainy morning, we were just trying to get to my bus stop and I just saw a bus and ambulances and fire trucks blocking it off,” said Tristan Finkley, who was heading to her bus with her mom.

From WPTV Chopper 5, you could see the flashing lights surrounding the bus at 6:30 a.m. Investigators say Natasha was heading to her bus stop when she stepped in the crosswalk as the bus was turning right with a green light. The crossing guard wasn’t on duty yet. PBSO says Natasha was trapped underneath, dragged a short distance, and died at the hospital.

“I think school should start a little later than 7:30 in the morning because a lot of kids have to walk or drive long distances just to get to their bus stops to get to school,” Finkley said.

It’s a renewed call for change following the tragedy. Just last week, Palm Beach County School Board members raised discussion about delaying the start time for high school students to no earlier than 8 a.m.

“What I would like to ask is that we put forth a concerted effort from staff to really look into this,” said Erica Whitfield, who represents District 4.

“There’s studies that obviously show students would do a little better if they had more sleep in the morning, said Board Chairman Frank Barbieri.

Barbieri told the board he sees students standing in the street sometimes early in the morning, and a delayed start time also has another benefit.

“The high school kids that pick up the buses in the morning are standing in the dark, so it’s not a great situation anyway, so if we could start school later it would help them,” Barbieri said.

Last week, the board agreed to look into the later start time, but no action was taken.

According to the district, the bus driver involved in the crash is still working, but he’s not back on the road, which is protocol.

The driver has not currently been charged.

A vigil for Natasha Dwyer will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at the intersection of Elmhurst Rd. and Haverhill West Palm Beach.