Cradling his foster daughter in his arms, Robert Schulz had just pulled 9-year-old Aiyanna Moffitt from under a school bus near the family’s home in Taylorsville.
Aiyanna and her brother, Brian Moffitt, 6, both of 2503 W. Chaucer Drive, were running to catch the bus to Taylorsville Elementary School about 7:40 a.m. Thursday when they crossed in front of it and were struck, police said.
Dusti Watkins, who lives in the neighborhood and was waiting for the bus nearby with four other children, saw the Moffitt children run out in front of the bus.
“I heard screaming, and the boy went in between the two front tires of the bus,” the woman said.
Schulz — who saw the accident unfold before him in just 6 seconds — began pulling Aiyanna out from under the bus, Watkins said.
Appearing to be in shock as he cradled the girl, the neighbor told Schultz they needed to get Aiyanna to the hospital.
“He had blood on his hands. She was bleeding all over the back of her pants.
The bleeding was pretty bad,” Watkins said.
Schulz carried the girl into the family’s home, about 20 steps away, to wait for medical help, she said.
Aiyanna was flown by medical helicopter to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis with serious injuries to her legs, Bartholomew County Sheriff Maj. Todd Noblitt said.
Girl reported as doing OK
Medical information on Aiyanna’s condition was not immediately available from the hospital at the family’s request, but Taylorsville Elementary officials learned the girl went through surgery Thursday afternoon and was doing OK.
Her brother Brian was taken by ambulance to Columbus Regional Hospital, where he was treated for a bump on the head and cuts and bruises and released, family member Justin Schulz said.
Schulz told reporters the bus ran over the girl’s leg, but the wheel did not run over the boy, according to WISH-TV, a newsgathering partner of The Republic.
Groups of children had congregated around various bus stops near stop signs in the Colony Park neighborhood waiting to be picked up when the accident happened.
Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. Bus No. 269 was driven by substitute Dylan C. Graham, Superintendent John Quick said.
Graham had driven west on Chaucer to the three-way stop then slowed for the stop sign and stopped, Noblitt said.
A student on the bus told the driver he didn’t need to pick up any children there, and Graham did not deploy the stop arm, which is not required when braking for a stop sign.
The school bus video recorded the stop, with Graham looking to the north at Buckingham, where any crossing traffic would be, and then starting to advance through the intersection, Noblitt said.
A witness told investigators that Aiyanna and Brian were standing with Robert Schulz near the roadway on the southern side of the intersection when Brian darted in front of the bus, closely followed by his sister.
Schulz attempted but was unable to stop the children, Noblitt said.
Brian was struck by the front bumper and fell to the ground beneath the bus’ front wheels, Noblitt said.
Aiyanna was struck and run over by the left front bus tire, Noblitt said.
Graham stopped the bus just before the left rear tire would have struck the girl, about 16 feet from where the children were hit, Noblitt said.
Substitute’s 2nd day on route
“Those kids always run in front of the bus. The normal bus driver knows that,” Watkins said. “The sub didn’t know to stop.”
Watkins indicated that particular stop on Chaucer is just for the two siblings and that a substitute driver would not have known that.
Thirty-six children were on the bus when the accident happened, and they were taken to school by another bus, Noblitt said.
He said there was another factor that may have contributed to Thursday’s accident.
A similar scenario unfolded Wednesday morning at the same location, when Graham also was substituting and stopped at the Chaucer and Buckingham intersection while heading west.
Graham told police he saw children and an adult male standing in the driveway at the Schulz residence Wednesday. When the children started to run onto the roadway toward the bus, the adult male motioned them back, Noblitt said.
Graham said he watched them get into a vehicle Wednesday, which was his first day on this particular route for Taylorsville Elementary.
On Thursday, school district counselors immediately went to the elementary school and stayed for the day, Taylorsville Elementary Principal Sydell Gant.
Counselors will return this morning for students and staff, she said.
Offers of help for family Gant stayed in contact with the family Thursday and sent out a message to school families that Aiyanna and her family had been overwhelmed with the offers of support and help.
“They’re great kids,” Gant said of the two youngsters, adding that Aiyanna and Brian have many friends at the school.
They began attending Taylorsville Elementary at the beginning of this school year, with Brian in kindergarten and Aiyanna in second grade.
As friends called the school Thursday to offer support, Gant promised the school will continue to monitor what the family might need and try to make sure those needs were met.
As part of the investigation, Graham submitted voluntarily to a drug screen, and results are pending, Noblitt said. Investigators do not believe that driver impairment was a factor in the accident, he said.
Graham, of Columbus, had been driving for the school corporation as a substitute since about Thanksgiving and had not had any problems, Quick said.
He was substituting for Kim Fowler, the regular bus driver on the route, who was on bereavement leave.
Indiana State Police Trooper Travis Coryea inspected the bus at the scene. It did not reveal any safety violations.
The mechanical condition of the bus was not a factor on the crash, said Sgt. Noel Houze, state police public information officer.