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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Mom Watches Horrified as Son, 6, Is Dragged 575 Feet by School Bus: 'I Was Going to Watch Him Die'

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May 12 was a traumatizing day for a family in Buxton, Maine, when an accident nearly claimed the life of a 6-year-old boy.

Mom Athena Lavigne was waiting for her son, 6, and her niece, also 6, to get off the school bus. She was waiting along Dunnell Road and watched as the bus stopped, her niece got off and then her son stepped off.

Then she watched in horror as her son’s backpack got tangled in the door as it closed and the driver took off, dragging him along.

“My son tried to get off,” Lavigne told WGME-TV. “And he immediately started to drive off … I was waiting for his little body to go underneath the bus. I didn’t think the driver was going to stop.

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“Then the bus immediately started to drive away. I saw my … son’s feet underneath the bus being dragged and I heard him scream.

“I thought my son was going to get dragged up under the bus and I was going to watch him die,” she told WMTW.

Lavigne took off after the vehicle, desperately trying to get the driver’s attention.

“And I ran after the school bus,” she recalled. “And I was screaming for him to stop. I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I just wanted him to stop. I didn’t think he was going to stop. I thought he was just going to keep driving. It felt like forever. It was terrifying.”

Finally, the driver stopped. The boy — who had been wearing shorts and sneakers — was all scraped up along the side of his body and was taken to the hospital.

Thankfully, though, the backpack was strong enough to bear his weight and did not break during the ordeal, which Lavigne thinks saved her son’s life.

“He’s got road rash down the side of his left leg,” Lavigne said. “He’s been a real trooper throughout the whole thing. He’s really scared. Doesn’t want to ride the school bus anymore.”

Police estimated that the boy had been dragged a total of 575 feet, and the school transportation director admitted that the driver had not followed the strict exiting procedure.

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“Loading and unloading is the most critical time of a bus driver’s job,” the director said. “You have to be 100% focused during that time. Obviously, mistakes happened.”

Protocol is for students to walk to a designated spot after exiting the bus and wait for the driver’s go-ahead to continue, which did not happen in this case. The bus driver is then supposed to wait for the students to finish crossing the street before closing the doors and driving away.

The 63-year-old driver, described as “relatively new,” has been placed on administrative leave. Both police and the school district are looking into the incident.

“I don’t understand how this happened,” Lavigne said. “I’m just so glad he’s OK.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking