Truck fatally strikes boy exiting school bus



Posted on January 7, 2011 at 12:51 PM

KAUFMAN, Texas - A 7-year-old boy was struck and killed as he exited his school bus in front of his house about 4 p.m. Thursday.

Kaufman Independent School District Superintendent Todd Williams said the boy is the fourth student to die this school year along with a popular administrator.

"We are dealing with one tragedy a month as far as student and employee deaths," Williams said. "It has been a very tragic school year for us."

The school bus had stopped in the northbound lane on a rural stretch of State Highway 34 to drop students off. Texas DPS Trooper Lonny Haschel said the bus driver, 53-year-old Mike Claussen, had activated the flashing red lights and extended the stop sign in compliance with state regulations.

Haschel said a silver Ford pickup truck driven by 47-year-old Salvador Hernandez, of Terrell, was driving south and struck and killed the child as he crossed the street.

The boy's name has not been released.

Walking just steps behind, the victim's two little brothers witnessed the death, Haschel said.

"When you're checking the roll the next day and see that empty chair, a lot of people don't understand how that impacts a teacher," Williams said.

Hernandez faces an involuntary manslaughter charge. Investigators said it is uncertain what distracted his driving.

Crandall, Mabank and Terrell school districts have volunteered to send counselors to Kaufman ISD, Williams said. Right now, he said he thinks his district can handle the tragedy on its own.