Never Again: A timeline from tragedy to triumph

Published: May. 28, 2019 at 6:00 PM EDT
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This fall, Hoosier children will be safer at their bus stops, thanks to historic legislation passed in memory of three siblings who died in Fulton County.

With strong bipartisan support and public engagement, school bus safety legislation took only six months to pass.

But it wasn't easy.

On the eve of the official signing of the MAXSTRONG school bus safety bill, here is a timeline of how history was made.

Oct. 30, 2018

In the early morning hours of October 30, 2018, four children were struck as they were getting on their Tippecanoe Valley school bus. Alivia Stahl and her twin brothers, Mason and Xzavier Ingle, died. A neighbor boy Maverick Lowe was seriously injured.

Nov. 20, 2018

In November, we launched our commitment to children's safety with our Never Again series of reports. Just weeks after the accident, we met with Indiana lawmakers who were looking into drafting school bus safety legislation.

During an interview that aired on Nov. 20, 2018, Indiana Sen. Randy Head, of Logansport, said, “I want to make sure we're doing something that's going to have a substantial effect to make things safer for children out there.”

Jan. 7, 2019

We were at the Statehouse on Jan. 7 for the exclusive report when Head filed Senate Bill 2, which called for curbside drop-offs and pickups on Indiana highways and increased penalties for violators. He also added a funding option for stop arm cameras.

“The family is working very hard to keep this issue in the public eye so that we can get this bill passed and no other family will have to go through what they're going through right now,” Head in January said.

Feb. 6, 2019

An Indiana Senate committee met on Feb. 6 and passed Senate Bill 2 after powerful testimony by the fathers of the victims, Michael Stahl and Shane Ingle. The bill moved to the full Senate.

Feb. 18, 2019

Just more than a week later, on Feb. 18, the Indiana Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 2.

Feb. 20, 2019

Next, it was on to the Indiana House of Representatives, where representative sponsors were added. Ethan Manning, of Macy, took the lead in the House, with Reps. Jim Pressel, of Rolling Prairie, and South Bend's B. Pat Bauer joining as co-sponsors.

March 6, 2019

NewsCenter 16 was the only local media team in the room at the Statehouse hearing on March 6, during which lawmakers heard emotional testimony from parents Brittany and Shane Ingle. Committee members passed the bill on for consideration to the full House.

That was where the legislation hit a major obstacle over stop arm camera language. House Republicans moved to strip that wording from the bill.

March 25, 2019

On March 25, House members unanimously passed the heavily amended bill that took out the stop arm camera language but kept other key measures, like highway curbside pickup and increased penalties.

April 2, 2019

The House version was so different from the original bill that Head filed a motion to dissent on April 2.

April 23, 2019

Next, the bill was sent to conference committee to hammer out the differences. During key negotiations, lawmakers managed to insert stop arm camera language back into the bill.

History was made on April 23 when the MAXSTRONG School Bus Safety Act was passed almost six months after that tragic day in October with a final vote of 90-4.

It was a bittersweet moment for the mother of the three victims, Brittany Ingle.

“My children didn’t die in vain. That was the biggest thing for me. This senseless tragedy that happened. Something positive, we have to bring out of it. And this is it,” she said.

May 2019

That brings us to the month of May, when Gov. Eric Holcomb signs the MAXSTRONG School Bus Safety Act into law.

“The measures we are taking – same-side pickup, increasing the penalty, everything good that came out of this bill – is a step in the right direction,” Holcomb said.

Family members, lawmakers and supporters will be on hand to witness the signing of the law on Wednesday to make sure this type of tragedy never happens again.

The law goes into effect on July 1, 2019.

For other Never Again stories from Tricia Sloma or to see the details in the law, see these previous stories: