CMS teacher accused of striking student with vehicle cited for passing stopped school bus

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A car that hit a student at a bus stop in east Charlotte Tuesday morning was driven by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) teacher, sources tell WBTV.

CMS says the bus was stopped on Kimmerly Glen Road at Keyway Boulevard with its safety arm out and lights on when the student was grazed. The student, 16-year-old Rikay'a Hayes, attends Cochrane Collegiate Academy.

According to the police report, 44-year-old Walter Coney Ellerbe was cited for passing a stopped school bus in the incident. CMS says Ellerbe is a social studies teacher at Garinger High School. He was hired in May 2015 and is a full-time employee.

Ellerbe said he didn't see the stopped bus or a pedestrian. He says he heard a horn blow and slowed down. That's when he felt something hit his vehicle.

Hayes says she was standing on the curb waiting for the bus before Tuesday's incident happened.

"The bus had pulled up and had stopped. I was getting ready to cross the street and a car had came by, flying down, and I was hit by the right passenger mirror," she said.

Ellerbe says his front windshield was slightly fogged at the time.

Hayes said she thought the car was going to stop because the bus arms were out.

"But because he was speeding so fast, he didn't stop on time," she said. "By the time I was hit it was almost slow motion."

She said the driver then stopped to see if she was OK. Students also got off the bus to assist her.

Hayes said she has a message for the driver who hit her and drivers in similar situations.

"Slow down and pay attention to your surroundings," she said. "Please pay attention. If the bus has the stop sign out and you see lights are flashing, pay attention."

"He knocked her down," said Kinya Roseboro, Rikay'a's mother. "He hit her hard enough to break his side view mirror and knock her to the ground."

Roseboro says she was on her way to work when her daughter called and said she was hit. She drove to the hospital where she met the ambulance carrying her daughter.

"It's not something I want to hear in the morning or at all. I'm grateful he (driver) stopped. I am but if he had left his home 10 minutes earlier this wouldn't have happened. Where-ever he was rushing to this morning it wasn't worth it."

Roseboro, who reluctantly lets her daughter take the school bus, says she's angry the collision happened.

"The yellow bus is not hard to miss. The flashing red lights in the morning are not hard to miss and I've seen people try to speed pass and beat the bus," Roseboro said. "So whether it's your child or someone else's child it's still a child outside and to get a call from my only child not to panic I've been hit by a car."

Roseboro, who says she will resume driving her daughter to school and picking her up, believes more needs to be done about bus stop safety.

"They really need to do something about take or another measure or find something else to slow people down," she said.. "Because the arm is not working, the stop sign is not working  - clearly the red lights are not working so what else can we do."

"The safety and well-being of students and staff are top priorities for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools at all times," CMS says, in wake of a recent tragic incident that left 15-year-old Olympic High School student Zoe Alana Deen dead.

Deen reportedly missed the bus and was running to catch it when she was struck near the intersection of Youngblood Road and Buckthorne Ridge Lane on March 27.

"CMS will work with law enforcement to support aggressive investigation of and maximum penalties for vehicle-related incidents that threaten the safety of students and staff," CMS said in a statement Tuesday. "The thoughts of all educators, staff and leaders of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are with the families and school communities affected by recent bus stop incidents and we call on the community to help keep all our students safe."

After the fatal incident, many people spoke out about bus stop safety in Charlotte. A town hall meeting was held just days later to address the issue.

CMS said changes were being made based on an internal review as well as requests for the changes.

School bus safety is extremely important to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The CMS transportation office works diligently to provide safe transportation for more than 127,000 students who ride school buses daily. After internal review and in response to requests for bus stop changes around the location of the recent tragic event on Youngblood Road, CMS Transportation has taken the following steps to protect safety of students:

"Drivers and passengers in all vehicles should always be aware of and look out for students and school buses at bus stops and while in transit," CMS said in a statement Tuesday. "The district will continue to work with students and drivers on school bus safety, and CMS asks parents to talk with their students, review school bus stop safety, look both ways before crossing streets and encourage caution every day."

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