Counselors & Benefit at school; Driver’s record in question
ALDINE – Students, parents and neighbors were witness Thursday afternoon to a tragic accident, as a 15 year old student from MacArthur 9th grade was hit and killed by the bus that had just dropped her off near her house.
Alma Meza got off the bus on Shady Lane near Castledale at about 3 p.m., and crossed in front of the bus, according to sheriff’s reports. She was heading for Worsham Elementary, across the road and drainage easement, to pick up her sibling as she usually did.
But the bus driver, Nellie Cormier, did not see her and proceeded ahead. The bus hit the girl, who clung to the front bumper for a few seconds before she lost her grip and fell under the bus and was run over by the rear left wheels, according to the sheriff ’s report.
Students on the bus heard a thump and alerted the driver, at first thinking she had hit an animal, and looking back realized it was a student. They screamed for the driver to stop.
According to Sgt. D. A. Coleman of the Sheriff’s office, the bus stopped and the driver went back to check, then called for help. When authorities arrived on the scene, the girl was pronounced dead from her injuries.
Deputy Coleman said that the driver showed no signs of impairment at the scene, such as drugs or alcohol, but that she will be tested for these anyway. The investigation will also look into why she did not see Meza, perhaps due to sight lines from her seat, or some other obstruction or distraction.
Neighbors and parents were quick to complain that this driver had been reported previously for poor driving, but that the District had not responded appropriately.Aldine spokesperson Mike Keeney would not release information on her driving record, but others reported that she had been involved in three other accidents, one on a Aldine school bus and involving another student that had to be hospitalized after she hit her. Using a Freedom of Information request, the Houston Chronicle confirmed this from records with the District.
Sheriff’s deputies also disclosed that Cormier had two other accidents within the last five years in private vehicles. Keeney told the Northeast News that the driver had been relieved of driving duties and assigned to a remedial driver training program. No other action had been taken by the district as of last Friday.
MacArthur 9th grade school canceled TAKS tests which had been scheduled, and had three counselors available to talk with students and help them with their grief.
The school also scheduled a benefit program for next Friday, during their Cinco de Mayo activities, to raise money for the family, which lives on Castledale near the accident scene, and is attempting to deal with their grief and details of the death.
Meza had many friends, was considered an exceptional student academically and athletically, and will be missed, said Keeney, adding “it is a sad day for our district and of course the family.”