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Near miss on Highway 51

Everyone was smiling Wednesday afternoon after first grader Tyer Lee (left) was pulled from the path of an out-of-control vehicle as he exited a school bus stopped on Highway 51 South. Tyer’s brother, 15-year-old Jaleel Lee (center) snatched Tyer back onto the bus and away from the vehicle’s path, according to bus driver Lawrence Smith. Celebrating with the brothers were (clockwise from Tyer) Coya Ford, Anthony Fondren, A. J. Bolk, Scooter Hentz, and Aniah Lee.

“My little ones was just getting off,” said South Panola School District bus driver Lawrence Smith Wednesday afternoon after a pickup narrowly missed his stopped bus and a student exiting on Highway 51 South. The Panolian photo by John Howell Sr.

School children unhurt after careening truck dodges bus

 There was a wreck involving a school bus on Highway 51 South Wednesday afternoon. When it was over, many smiles were shared.

They were smiles of relief and acknowledgement of blessing. They were shared because what could have been tragedy was instead a near miss.

First grader Tyer Lee was the first of three siblings exiting Lawrence Smith’s stopped schoolbus at 11187B Highway 51 South. Smith was headed south, distributing schoolchildren at the end of the day. Two northbound trucks — a pickup and a truck with a cherry-picker lift topped the hill. The larger truck’s brakes failed, its driver said later. The pickup — whether hit from behind and forced forward or for other reasons — veered across the path of the school bus, narrowly missing its front bumper.

Tyer’s big brother, 15-year-old Jaleel Lee was right behind him as saw the pickup careening dangerously close. He reached and snatched his little brother back onto the bus to safety.

“His brother reached and got him and that’s what saved him,” the bus driver said.

The pickup was stopped after it struck a tree about 30 yards off the roadway. The driver of the lift truck brought his vehicle to a stop on the highway shoulder about a quarter mile further north. Other details of the wreck were not immediately available.

Law enforcement officials stopped traffic southbound on Highway 51 at the four-way stop intersection at the Eureka Road as officers investigated. Emergency medical service officials from Medstat went from student to student on the bus to make sure there were no injuries. The driver of the pickup did not appear to be injured. He told the children’s mother, Kimberly Lee, how relieved he was that his truck had missed the bus and children.

“Blessed,” was heard repeatedly.

“We’re blessed every day; we’re carrying 3,500 children every day,” said South Panola School District Transportation Director Scootie Murphree as he spoke with bus driver Smith.