INDIANAPOLIS (WNDU) - The bus stop accident in October 2018 left three Fulton County children dead, one seriously injured and families devastated.
Two fathers at the heart of this one tragedy spoke at Wednesday's Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Mike Stahl is the father of 9-year old victim Alivia Stahl. Her 6-year old twin brothers, Mason and Xzavier Ingle, also died. The boys’ father, Shane Ingle, also spoke Wednesday.
Stahl was the first to testify in support of stronger school bus safety laws.
“As a firefighter, as a father, as a truck driver for 10 years, I can tell you there are steps that we can take,” Stahl said.
Sen. Randy Head’s bill has taken shape with new amendments. Here’s what the bill looks like now:
- Tougher penalties for violators
- Curbside drop-offs and pickups on Indiana highways to prevent children from crossing the road
- The ability for school districts to petition for slower speeds in school zones
- An emphasis on school bus traffic rules at the BMV when renewing or getting a license
- Allow schools to use stop arm cameras
“I think if someone runs a school bus stop arm or stop sign and violates the flashing lights – and they keep doing it, they keep getting ticketed or charged, they keep getting convicted – the penalties have got to get worse, because they’re not getting it,” Head said. “And they’re jeopardizing the lives of children.”
Ingle also addressed the senators expressing support for their work.
“I 100 percent support all of the amendments and the whole bill,” Ingle said. “As a parent, our kids were, are, the most important thing. And our kids are making a difference. Our kids are providing safety for other kids.”
Next up, the full Indiana Senate will take up the bill, and more amendments could be added.
If you would like to lend your support to this bill or other bus safety legislation, we’ve made it easy for you. To to find your state legislators, click here.
Also out Wednesday was a very preliminary report on the Rochester crash by the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB.
The federal agency says it is gathering more information on the transportation policies in the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation to learn more about bus loading and unloading on high-speed roads.
The NTSB is also looking into similar crashes in Georgia and Mississippi. It says all aspects of the Rochester crash remain under investigation.
Brittany Ingle, the mother of all three victims, was unable to attend Wednesday's legislative hearing due to illness. She told Tricia Sloma the following:
“I am extremely happy and grateful that Senator Head and the committee voted yes to send the bill to the full senate for a vote and hopefully becoming the MAXSTRONG bill that will help improve school bus safety for all children. Our children were our passion and meant everything to us and we were devastated after they were taken from us in the blink of an eye and we were not sure how we were even going to continue. My father had done some research and we got together and it became obvious to Shane and me what we needed to do next. That same love and passion for our children inspired us to create the MAXSTRONG movement. And with the help, support and encouragement of the thousands of people, bus drivers, mothers, fathers, grandparents, school administrators, the help of the media, the help of Senator Head and other legislators and support from around the country, we knew we had to try to make something positive out of this horrible tragedy. Championing this cause and helping to bring meaningful legislation to life so that no other families will ever have to go through this same horror and tragedy was the only path we could choose. We didn’t want our children to just be a casualty and forgotten. We wanted their love, their energy to live on forever and they were always so giving and wanting to make people happy. We want to continue their memory by helping get this legislation passed so other families will benefit from the changes this new legislation will bring. We thank everyone but want to remind them it’s not over. We still have work to do. Please keep the calls coming. Keep the letters coming. Let your senators and legislators and the governor know we need this bill passed. Please don’t let up! Let’s not stop until this bill becomes law and is signed by the governor!”
*MAXSTRONG is derived from the first initials of the children’s names – Mason, Alivia, Xzavier
Tricia Sloma and NewsCenter 16 will continue to follow this story as we look for ways to keep children safe in our series, Never Again: Preventing bus stop tragedies.
Tricia Sloma has been following the progression of legislation and other action taken by members of the community to help improve school bus and bus stop safety since the tragic crash in late October.
You can read and view previous installments of her Never Again series here:
- Never Again: Preventing bus stop tragedies
- North Liberty mom records bus stop violators in front of her house
- Alivia Stahl's dad: In his own words
- Never Again: Parents of children killed at bus stop lobby for legislation
- Never Again: Using legislation to prevent bus stop tragedies
- Rochester Community Schools gets hefty bus stop arm camera donation
- Never Again: Rochester school buses to be equipped with stop arm cameras
- Never Again: The dangers bus drivers deal with on the road - Part 1
- Never Again: School bus drivers debate road dangers - Part 2