Last year the community was devastated after a local middle school student was hit while exiting a school bus, but the events prior to and even after the accident have some Killeen ISD drivers saying the blame was misplaced.

According to a report from Lauren Dodd with the Killeen Daily Herald, several bus drivers for KISD have stated that KISD unfairly placed the sole blame of the accident from August 31 on the bus driver, and shirked responsibility.

The middle school student was exiting the school bus near Hilltop Loop and Wales Drive in Killeen when they were hit by a passing truck. Authorities chose not to ticket the truck driver, but issued a citation to the KISD bus driver, William “Bill” Jones, Jr., 75, for failing to activate the proper warning lights during a bus stop.

KISD chose to fire Jones after 12 years on the job. The next day Jones was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest at Cedar Gap Park in Harker Heights.

Former KISD bus driver Bill Paquette stepped forward to speak with the Killeen Daily Herald, and provided details that were previously unknown to the public.

According to Paquette, KISD bus drivers trained and practiced their routes two weeks in advance of the beginning of in-person classes last August, but drivers were told not to use their loading lights. Instead, Paquette says, they were told to use their four-way flashers.

Several former bus drivers and two current bus drivers believe that this practice led to confusion about which lights to use.

According to Dodd, the Herald has received several reports from KISD bus drivers of a large amount of vacant positions which has led to overcrowding on school buses and the mistreatment of employees, plus a lack of proper maintenance on buses that hasn't been addressed.

Read Dodd's full article here. It's quite informative and shines new light on ongoing problems that may have factored into last year's tragedy.

When several bus drivers come forward like this, I feel like there is an obvious issue that needs to be fixed. I hope that KISD takes the time to listen and actually correct these issues before more innocent lives are lost.

Meanwhile, we should all be driving carefully around school buses, especially when they're slowing or stopped. Even if you don't see light flashing or the stop sign deployed, you should slow down and be looking for any kids that might be running from or to the bus.

When the lights are on and the stop sign is activated, you have to stop. Not only is it the law, but if you disobey that stop sign because you're in a hurry, you could seriously hurt or even kill a child. Keep in mind that you're the adult, and these kids aren't always looking where they're going or thinking about traffic.

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