2-year-old is struck, killed by school bus

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A 2-year-old boy was killed Tuesday after authorities say he ran in front of a school bus on a private driveway off Wilkins Road in Grovetown.

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Eli Ford (left), whose 2-year-old son Kole A. Ford was killed when he was hit by a Columbia County school bus, is comforted by Columbia County sheriff's Deputy Scott Zimmerman at the scene of the accident.  J. Scott Trubey/Staff
J. Scott Trubey/Staff
Eli Ford (left), whose 2-year-old son Kole A. Ford was killed when he was hit by a Columbia County school bus, is comforted by Columbia County sheriff's Deputy Scott Zimmerman at the scene of the accident.

Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins said Kole A. Ford, of the 400 block of Wilkins Road, was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:09 p.m.

Mr. Collins said Kole either ran in front of the bus or under it and was killed instantly. He said the child's body will be taken today to Augusta's crime lab for an autopsy.

The bus, No. 215, serves Brookwood Elementary School and was driven by Candy Hammett, 37, of Grovetown, said Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris.

Ten pupils were on the bus at the time of the incident. Another bus picked up the pupils and drove them to their parents, Capt. Morris said.

Joey Dilliard, a 12-year-old fifth-grader at Brookwood, said he was on the bus when Kole was struck.

"He was running beside the bus like he always does," Joey said.

School officials, including Superintendent Tommy Price, Associate Superintendent Charlie Nagle and School Board Chairman Regina Buccafusco, quickly made their way to the scene after the 4 p.m. accident.

"It just makes you absolutely sick," Mrs. Buccafusco said.

Capt. Morris said officers would continue investigating today to determine how the incident occurred by using mapping and diagramming techniques.

He said the investigation could last several days and would try to determine whether any charges will be filed.

Mr. Collins described Kole's mother, Christina Ford, as being "emotionally destroyed.''

She told Mr. Collins that her son had been standing in a yard near the bus, which was stopped. When the bus began to move, the child ran.

Mr. Collins said the driver, who did not see the boy, stopped when Mrs. Ford yelled.

Kole's father, Eli Ford, and his grandmother arrived at the scene less than 30 minutes later, but all were too distraught too talk.

The last time a child was fatally struck by a school bus in Columbia County was Jan. 9, 2001, when 5-year-old Aleana Johnson died right after her bus had dropped her off from her Westmont Elementary kindergarten class.

That accident occurred on Highview Drive just behind Bi-Lo on Columbia Road. In that case, Aleana left the bus and turned to walk in front of it. The bus driver, who said he didn't see Aleana, started to pull off, striking the child.

Afterward, the Legislature passed a bill, written by former state Sen. Joey Brush and dubbed Aleana's Law, setting forth safety requirements for school buses and drivers.

Columbia County has initiated improvements to include annual retraining, monthly in-service training and a requirement of 50 to 100 hours of training before a new bus driver is allowed to drive solo.

Staff Writer Valerie Rowell contributed to this article.

Reach Preston Sparks or J. Scott Trubey at (706) 868-1222 or ccchron@augustachronicle.com.

BUS FATALITIES

According to the Georgia Department of Education, there were five school bus-related fatalities in Georgia in 2005. The numbers for 2006 are still being collected.

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fuhrerfamily
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fuhrerfamily 03/21/07 - 03:13 am
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I want this poor child's

I want this poor child's family to know that they are in my prayers. I hope to never go through what they are going through now. I have a 3 year old son and a five year old daughter, and I would be devistated if something happened to one of them. I cried when I read this story and saw the picture of that poor babies father visibly upset and distraut.

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 03/21/07 - 04:30 am
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This is my second time

This is my second time reading this story and I've cried both times. My heart and prayers go out to this poor, poor family. I hope they realize that this little boy is now with God and is not hurting. Certainly, the parents and family are hurting and will feel this horrible pain and emptiness, and I am truly sorry for them. I can only hope and pray that this family will turn to God for comfort because that is the only thing that will come close to healing them.

Reality
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Reality 03/21/07 - 06:20 am
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This is a horrible accident

This is a horrible accident that no one should have to endure. My heart felt condolences go out to the family.

amazed1
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amazed1 03/21/07 - 07:25 am
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I can not imagine how anyone

I can not imagine how anyone can overcome a tramatic experience as this, without a strong faith in Christ. The thought of losing a child is heart wrenching. My prayers will definently include this family.

what
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what 03/21/07 - 07:46 am
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My thoughts and prayers go

My thoughts and prayers go out to this family. Though they are feeling great pain and emptiness with this tragic loss, I pray that they will find comfort in knowing that they now have a very special angel watching over them.

prettygirl30906
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prettygirl30906 03/21/07 - 08:09 am
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This family is in my prayers.

This family is in my prayers. I have a going on 3 year old and a going on 2 year old and I also have a 4 month old I would go crazy if something like this happen to one of them. I cried when I heard this story. It is just really sad this has happen. I just want this family to know you all are in my thoughts and prayers.

All About Me
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All About Me 03/21/07 - 08:13 am
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My thoughts and prayers go

My thoughts and prayers go out to this family and also to the bus driver who I am sure is also having a hard time dealing with what happened. I hope this family can find peace and comfort in Christ.

ibade
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ibade 03/21/07 - 08:38 am
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Mr.& Mrs.Ford my thoughts and

Mr.& Mrs.Ford my thoughts and prayers are with you and the family And also with Candy Hammett.Put your faith and trust in God.He will see you through this.I pray for comfort and peace to this family & Candy, Lord.Lord give them what they need in a time like this.We don't know why things happen but, I know you are there with them right now as we speak.So I ask you Lord comfort them, just wrapp your arms around them and let them know you are with them.And you will never leave them.Let all of them turn to you Father.In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

pinky
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pinky 03/21/07 - 08:44 am
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To the Ford's Family my

To the Ford's Family my payers goes out to each of you. I know that he might not think that you can go on, but look and prayer to God to give your the comfort you need during the following days, months, and year ahead. He can and will do it for you only if you ask Him. And to Ms. Hammett I said a prayer for you also, because I know this is very hard for you also. The same I say to the Ford I also say to you, look to God for comfort He will help you during the days ahead.

gofigure
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gofigure 03/21/07 - 08:46 am
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Both the family and the bus

Both the family and the bus driver are in my prayers. This is a devastating accident. Emotional scars will be left behind but I certainly hope other parents will see the safety factor involving children running next to buses, mail trucks, cars vans, etc. The seemlessly innocent fun of this turns traggic. May God comfort all involved at this time.

curly123053
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curly123053 03/21/07 - 09:03 am
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Everybody involved here will

Everybody involved here will be in my prayers. There is also a lesson to be learned here too.
One of the students on that bus said Cole ran after the bus every day. Did his parents see this as being cute? How about the bus driver? Why was this allowed to keep happening? Part of loving a child is teaching them what is dangerous to them and what is not. They do not know and have no fear of things that can kill or hurt them until it is too late as this terrible accident has shown.
Please keep your eyes on your kids and teach them to be safe around buses and traffic in general.

campbell
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campbell 03/21/07 - 09:23 am
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i've also read one of the

i've also read one of the children on the bus said that the child was running beside the bus as he always does. i was wondering where were the parents and did they know the child was doing this everyday. if the children on the bus notice, then they are not the only ones....my prayers are with both families, it is a tradegy for both and hopefully the driver wont be charged, because this is something that she has to live with for the rest of her life;as well as the parents losing their child.

KingJames
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KingJames 03/21/07 - 09:33 am
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This story is sad. The

This story is sad. The parents, family members, students on the bus, and the bus driver are all in my prayers. Additionally, I think that Jim Blaylock did an outstanding photojournalism job. He took a very tragic situation and brought it to all of the online readers of the AC so that we could feel and better understand the emotions of the day.

mommataz42
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mommataz42 03/21/07 - 09:38 am
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My daughter was on Ms

My daughter was on Ms Hammett's bus just minutes before the accident occured. Candy is a wonderful women who has always been extremely careful while driving. I know how much this is hurting her and she probably feels as if she lost her own child as well. Our prayers go out to both Candy and the family of the child. I just hope they don't personally take it out on Ms Hammett because I know for a fact that she would never have let this happen if she could have avoided it. I also pray charges do not get brought upon her as she had no control over the situation.

WAG
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WAG 03/21/07 - 09:42 am
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Why was a 2 year old out

Why was a 2 year old out running by the bus. The bus driver had repeatedly told the parents. A tragedy brought on by neglect.

Wilson
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Wilson 03/21/07 - 09:47 am
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May God Bless All Involved. I

May God Bless All Involved. I can not imagine how you may feel, I have a 2 year old. For losing a child is something noone wants to experience. However, put your trust and faith in God. Look to the heavens for which all blessing flow.

heres14u
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heres14u 03/21/07 - 09:51 am
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we are praying for your

we are praying for your family during this very difficult time... so sorry to hear of such a tragedy.

fergie01
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fergie01 03/21/07 - 09:56 am
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how many small children are

how many small children are we going to lose to uneccessary accidents. my prayers are also with the family and the driver. no charges should be presses against this driver. and the mother will suffer forever because she will blame herself for always allowing this behavior to continue. hopefully everyone will find peace.

CINDYLOUWHO
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CINDYLOUWHO 03/21/07 - 10:01 am
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my prayers go out for this

my prayers go out for this family. uga shut up

LynxRHot
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LynxRHot 03/21/07 - 10:17 am
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I have a RANT for the Augusta

I have a RANT for the Augusta Chronicle. Truly, this is such a tragedy. I understand the media's need to report the news, but to exploit the family in such a way as to post a picture of the grieving father on the front page infuriates me. This family needs the support and prayers of the community...not public photos of their grieving process. When will the media ever learn to back off?! My heart goes out to the family for their loss, as well as to all of those who were there when the tragedy happened. Thanks to the Augusta Chronicle, the family will forever have a visual reminder of the grief they feel...as if they need to be reminded. Posting this picture on the front page will surely add to the hurt Mr. and Mrs. Ford are already feeling.

tturner
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tturner 03/21/07 - 10:21 am
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This is a really sad

This is a really sad accident. My heart is hurting. My heart goes out to the family, students, bus driver, and the school. This is really shocking, for a 2yr. old to be so close to the road where he could get hit and no one is close enough to him to prevent it. I have a 2yr. old and a 6yr. old, and when we are outside, I am always watching them. They are not allowed to go to the street or run around without me or their father there to watch them. I hate to say it, but the mother should have been paying more attention to her child. He should have never been that far away from her where she could not catch him. You should always keep your little ones in close range, because you never know what can happen in a blink of an eye.

myopinion
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myopinion 03/21/07 - 10:28 am
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My thoughts and prayers go

My thoughts and prayers go out to this family. Please pray for everyone involved. Can someone please answer this question? Why would the newspaper include a picture of a grieving father on the front of the newspaper only minutes after his 2-year old child was killed by a school bus?

b
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b 03/21/07 - 10:34 am
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My prayers are with the

My prayers are with the family. I am sooo sorry..

NEone
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NEone 03/21/07 - 10:38 am
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To Curly and the rest of you

To Curly and the rest of you perfect people: BACK OFF. Now is not the time for blaming the parents, the driver or anyone else you think might have done something wrong. They don't need your self-righteous guilt trip right now. Your comments are as offensive as some of you think the photo of the father is. How about compassion, gentleness, kindness, and words which will build up and not tear down?

GotCha
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GotCha 03/21/07 - 10:44 am
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First of all UGA, WATCH OUT

First of all UGA, WATCH OUT HOW YOU ARE QUICK TO BLAME! You may EAT your words one day. As a teenage bus driver, one morning driving for Headstart, I found myself in a very similar situation. Only by the Grace of God did it NOT turn out in a tradegy! Unless, you have walked in those shoes YOU can not imagine HOW or WHAT the circumstances might be. Things happen very quickly. Children move very quickly. We are not superhuman. That is what prayer and GOD is ALL about! GOD bless the parents & bus driver.

laura00x123
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laura00x123 03/21/07 - 10:52 am
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How dare the people come on

How dare the people come on here and judge my family. Let those without sins cast the first stone. Eli and Tina where good parents and they where not neglectful parents, they loved there kids so much. There are several stories about what happened and only one CHILD who says he runs by the bus everyday. Now is not the time to come on here and judge people, this is the time to show love and support, which a lot of people have done and I personally thank you. Our family needs all the prayers and support that we can get.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." - Matthew 7:3-5.

All About Me
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All About Me 03/21/07 - 11:06 am
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laura00x123 That is so true.

laura00x123 That is so true. It is very easy for everyone to get on here and judge the parents, the bus driver and anyone else. The fact is it is a great loss that a young child has been lost. The parents and the bus driver will have a long road of healing ahead of them. I don't think anyone can understand the loss of a child unless they have expirenced it for themselves. May god bless all involved. May he guide them in the right direction and may they feel his strength as they struggle to find their own.

Drama Mamma
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Drama Mamma 03/21/07 - 11:20 am
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I know theres grief and pain

I know theres grief and pain and blame but this was obviously a accident my heart goes out to the family and bus driver may god touch you and give you the power to over come your lose and knowing he is with god . He will allways be your gaurdian angel now. If something ever happen to one of my children I dont think I could get through it children are such a preicous gift from god.

KingJames
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KingJames 03/21/07 - 11:50 am
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LynxRHot, the AC ran that

LynxRHot, the AC ran that photo because the family is grieving and the community is here to console them. That photo is something that everyone will carry in their minds for years to come. It poignantly shows man's sensitivity and compassion to each other during a grievous calamity. It's like the terrible images of a smoldering Wold Trade Center on 9/11. Though we may not have known anyone involved, the picture brings us all together to grieve for the terrible loss.

ganascarracefan
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ganascarracefan 03/21/07 - 12:28 pm
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my heart goes out to the

my heart goes out to the family..but i have to ask why he was even by the bus???where was his parents???why wasn't the parents watching him closer????

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