Child Safe

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 9, 2016

Child is safe after being left on bus

By Rupert Howell
A child is safe after being left alone on a South Panola School bus Tuesday morning for about an hour, according to persons familiar with the incident.
Kindergartner Addison Williams was asleep on the bus when it was returned to the school bus shop on Eureka Road that morning.
A worker there, tasked with checking the buses’ mechanics and filling fuel tanks, was first to notice her.
School officials have only stated, “we regret a student being left on a South Panola School District bus this morning after school drop offs, but we are happy to report the child is safe. We have taken corrective action and are taking preventative measures to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
But bus driver Dennis Lightsey has accepted full responsibility for the incident, stating Wednesday afternoon, “I just screwed up. Nobody is any more upset about this than I am. . . She is such a sweet little girl.”
Driving one of the district’s approximately 65 buses for the past eight years, Lightsey said he dropped the bus off at the bus barn’s shop a little after 7:30 a.m. as he routinely does. Bus shop employees then check the bus’s fuel levels and do other needed maintenance Lightsey explained. He was notified of the incident by at about 8:30 a.m.
Lightsey said drivers who fail to check their buses are automatically terminated. His departure ends a long relationship with the school district as he has spent over 60 years either as a student/athlete in the classrooms and athletic fields or as a game official or hauling the yard marker up and down Tiger field and most recently as a bus driver.
Those years as an athlete and jogging up and down the sidelines may have contributed to his recent departure as hip surgery and bum knees make it painful for him to get about now, even for short distances like to the back of the bus.
Addison’s grandmother, Regina Morgan, told Channel 3 News, “If it had been hot, two hours in a 100 degree school bus, temperature would have been worse. Thank God we were in a cool spell.”
“She will not be back on a school bus. She will not,” Addison’s mother, Jaime Morgan, told the Memphis news station.
Lightsey said he had no excuses and had plans to make a personal apology to Addison and her family.

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