A school bus rolled over a 13-year-old girl Monday at Sego Middle School when she tumbled out of the bus while fighting a younger schoolmate, police said.
The girl, identified by classmates as Tiesha Mims, suffered multiple pelvic fractures, a broken right leg and a ruptured bladder, and she required surgery at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, sheriff's Investigator Blaise Dresser said.
She was expected to recover and will be charged in the fight, he said.
MCG spokeswoman Deborah Humphrey said Monday night that she could not provide information on Tiesha's condition.
Bus driver Robert Thompson will not be charged, police said. He was given nondriving duties until the investigation is complete, said James Thompson, the school district's deputy superintendent. The two are not related.
The bus had arrived at school just before 9 a.m. when the girls' argument turned from bickering to brawling, police said. The driver was trying to move the bus to an unloading area where teachers could help when the girl grabbed the door release during the fight and fell out.
Mr. Thompson kept driving because so many children were in the front egging on the fight and blocking his view of the door, Investigator Dresser said.
"He didn't realize she had fallen out. There was so much commotion going on," Investigator Dresser said. "There was a million kids watching the fight."
A 12-year-old girl was charged as a juvenile with simple affray and reckless conduct. She was released to her family and ordered to appear in juvenile court at a later date.
Police say the 12-year-old was not riding her assigned bus. She missed her bus and climbed on Bus 9718. The argument started soon after the older girl was picked up.
There is no indication that the 12-year-old intentionally pushed her schoolmate out of the bus, Investigator Dresser said.
The fight apparently stemmed from an ongoing feud that led to an after-school disturbance in the girls' neighborhood last week, Investigator Dresser said. Police were called, but no report was filed.
"Everyone was gone by the time we got there," he said.
Pupil Bianca Gardner witnessed Monday's accident and was crying about her friend's injuries after school. She said the fight had to do with "somebody's cousin."
"It's just fights that are unnecessary. Like last time, someone had a shoe, and someone threw a shoe and they hit my brother. All he was doing was asking who threw the shoe so he could give it back, and about 30 kids jumped on him," she said.
Bianca's mother, Tina Gardner, was visibly shaken Monday afternoon when she found out her child's bus had been involved.
"I think I am going to have to start taking them to school or take them to my mom's house," she said. "I am really going to try to get them into another school. They just got to this school. They haven't been here the whole school year, and they have been having problems."
Sego Middle School, located a few blocks off Windsor Spring Road, is the most violent middle school in Richmond County, with 94 incidents last year that required tribunal hearings, according to school data.
Investigator Dresser said Bus 9718 had a camera installed, but it was not operating. He did not know why.
"You would have to ask the school board about that," he said.
School officials were tight-lipped about the accident throughout the day Monday and asked Sego pupils not to talk publicly about it.
Transportation Director Michael Shinn declined comment at the school and referred questions to Mr. Thompson, the deputy superintendent, who said there was little to say until an investigation is complete.
"I don't want you to report the wrong thing, but I don't have anything to give you," he said.
Ms. Gardner said Tiesha's mother died about a year ago and she is being raised by her grandmother. School officials say the girl's grandmother had been notified and was with her at the hospital.
The accident follows an incident Friday involving a bus carrying pupils from Langford Middle School. Parents say there was a series of fights on a bus, with pupils throwing around trash and bottles filled with urine.
The substitute driver let several children get off the bus at the wrong stop, parent Michelle Sardelis said.
Ms. Sardelis said her son was hit by a glass bottle and was left at First Baptist Church.
"They were dropping off kids wherever they wanted," she said. "The disruptive ones got to stay on the bus."
School trustees are in the process of addressing transportation issues, including low morale among drivers, a lack of substitute drivers and inadequate pay. It is expected to be a topic at the Dec. 9 meeting.
Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.