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WhiteHouse.gov petition aimed at making school bus safety a federal law

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A petition on the White House website is aimed at making school bus safety a federal law.

The petition was created on Oct. 31 in light of a string of fatal incidents across the country, including one in which three siblings were killed in Indiana when they were struck by a pickup truck while walking to their bus stop.

On Nov. 2, CNN reported there were five fatalities in three days — with incidents in Indiana, Mississippi, Florida and Pennsylvania.

The petition reads as follows:

“Children are being injured or killed due to people running the alternating reds on school busses [sic]. individual state laws are largely ineffective and typically have no significant penalty.

We call upon our President and Congress to act by signing legislation that will keep our children safe by instituting severe penalties on ppl [sic] who choose to violate the red lights on a bus such as 30 days in jail, 90 day dl [driver’s license] suspension, 12 points on license and a mandatory minimum fine of $5000.00 for the first offense.

This is the least we the American voters will accept.”

The petition must receive 100,000 signatures in 30 days to receive a response from the White House.

As of Sunday afternoon, Nov. 11, the petition at WhiteHouse.gov needed 98,571 signatures by Nov. 30 to get a response.

Indiana incident

Crossing the street to their bus stop on the morning of Oct. 30 in rural Indiana, 9-year-old Alivia Stahl and her twin 6-year-old brothers, Mason and Xzavier Ingle, were fatally struck by a pickup truck, police said.

Alivia held her brothers’ hands and shielded them from the oncoming truck, their uncle told CNN affiliate WRTV.

The 24-year-old driver was arrested on three counts of felony reckless homicide and misdemeanor passing a school bus with the arm extended. She was released on $15,000 bond.

Another student injured in the incident was airlifted to a hospital in Fort Wayne.

Mississippi incident

A 9-year-old was struck and killed north of Tupelo, Mississippi, as he crossed the road to board a school bus on Oct. 31.

A 22-year-old man was charged with aggravated assault in the incident, Mississippi Highway Patrol Capt. Johnny Poulos said. Bond was set for the driver at $10,000.

Tallahassee incident

In Tallahassee, Florida, a 19-year-old man hit and injured a kindergartner who was crossing the street to board a school bus on Oct. 31, police told CNN affiliate WCTV.

The driver realized too late that the bus was stopped with arm extended, police said. He was given two traffic citations, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office said.

The driver reached out to apologize, the child’s family told WCTV, and the 5-year-old boy was at home and doing well.

Pennsylvania incident

In central Pennsylvania, a 7-year-old boy from Franklin Township was found dead on side of the road by his home after he was run over by a slow-moving vehicle on Nov. 1, authorities said.

“Evidence has shown that the child was run over at a slow speed,” Pennsylvania State Police Troop G’s tweeted. “A search warrant was obtained for a vehicle that was in the area at the time. The driver has been interviewed.”

“The bus driver on route arrived at the stop discovering the situation, contacted 911 and remained at the scene until first responders arrived,” Tyrone Area School District Superintendent Cathy Harlow said on Facebook.

Tampa incident

In Tampa, Florida, five children and two adults were rushed to a hospital after a car struck pedestrians at a school bus stop on Nov. 1, police spokesman Eddy Durkin said.

One child was in critical condition, Durkin said, but none of the injuries were considered life-threatening. Three of the children were 6 years old, one was 9 and one was 12.

Images from the scene showed backpacks scattered on the ground.

Witnesses reported that a Ford Escort driving at a high rate of speed in a residential area hit the pedestrians on the side of the street, Durkin said, but police later said it was unclear whether the driver, a 47-year-old man, had been speeding.

The driver stayed at the scene and was not charged, officials said.