NC Highway Patrol seizes car that nearly hit children getting on Iredell County bus

“It was awful, I mean that little child almost got hurt,” one state trooper said.
Bus video captured a Kia Soul nearly hitting two students crossing the road.
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 8:55 PM EST
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IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - In a matter of 30 hours, NC Highway Patrol seized a gray Kia that came within inches of hitting a little girl getting on the bus in Iredell County on Thursday morning.

WBTV is diving deeper into the punishment a driver like this could face if they decide to choose their destination over the safety of a student trying to get to school.

“My only thought at that time was oh my God, what the heck,” the girl’s mother said. “This car obviously was impatient, and I guess had something they thought was more viable than my child’s life at that point in time.”

According to Highway Patrol, five similar incidents happened in Iredell County last year, and it happens nearly 3,000 times daily across the state.

“It was awful, I mean that little child almost got hurt, almost got hit and almost possibly could have got killed,” Master Trooper Chris Casey said. “Right off the top they’re going to have charges as far as passing a stopped school bus and as they escalate as far as the bad driving, that’s careless and reckless driving.”

WBTV researched North Carolina laws and found that passing a school bus is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If caught, it gives you five points on your driver’s license and a fine up to $500.

The charge jumps to a Class I felony if the driver hits a person, and a Class H felony if someone is killed a driver bypassing a bus with lights on and the arm down.

“When it comes to a child’s safety, we take that very seriously and we’re going to put all of our effort into it,” Casey said.

While troopers were able to seize the car on Friday, they weren’t able to locate him until 2:10am Saturday.

He has since been identified as 35-year-old Joseph Graham Padgett Jr.

He will be charged with passing a stopped school bus, driving while his license was revoked, careless and reckless driving, and improper passing.

Anyone with information regarding his location should contact the Highway Patrol at 828-466-5500 or contact the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office.

The mother said her two girls are shaken by the incident, but she’s thankful they’re safe and alive.

“The only thing I can tell you was, she had guardian angels watching over her yesterday morning because if it wasn’t for that, it could have got ugly in a split second,” she said.

Related: Car towed after students nearly hit boarding stopped school bus in Iredell County