Police look for answers in child's death

  • Follow Metro

A day after 2-year-old Kole A. Ford fatally was struck by a school bus, police continued their investigation Wednesday to determine how the accident occurred.

Back | Next
  Staff
Staff

"We're conducting a thorough and comprehensive investigation and then, in the end, a determination will be made as to what, if any, charges will be filed," Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said, adding that a ruling likely won't be made until next week.

Meanwhile, some people in the area of Wilkins Road in Grovetown voiced concerns about the private one-lane dirt driveway where the incident occurred.

John Wilkins said he was unaware that a school bus was accessing his private driveway to transport children to some mobile homes. Otherwise, he said, he would not have allowed it.

"I just never dreamed it would be an issue with children and the school bus," he said, adding he would construct a berm to prevent school buses from using the driveway.

Kole was killed instantly Tuesday after, authorities say, he either ran in front of or under the school bus as it pulled away from a stop. An autopsy Wednesday determined he died from injuries to the head and pelvis.

The bus, No. 215, serves Brookwood Elementary School and was driven by Candy Hammett, 37, of Grovetown, authorities said.

Lois O'Neal, a Wilkins Road resident, said she has been concerned about the private driveway and has called school officials in the past about the road being narrow.

"They're not even supposed to be down there," she said. "This child would be alive today. ... Now, a 2-year-old is dead and this whole neighborhood is devastated."

Repeated calls to the Ford home were not answered Wednesday, and deputies said there was no one home during the day.

The bus schedule for last year showed 478 Wilkins Road as a stop. However, a search in this year's bus stop locations on the school board Web site shows only 540 Wilkins Road as the area's bus stop, three-tenths of a mile away.

Columbia County Schools Superintendent Tommy Price said Wednesday he couldn't speak specifically about Tuesday's fatality, citing the ongoing investigation.

However, he said there is no board policy forbidding school buses from traveling down private roads, adding that a property owner's permission isn't required for a school bus to use such a road.

But if a property owner asks the school system not to use the property, Mr. Price said the request would be honored.

"But basically it's the other way. They want us coming down these roads, because they don't want to have to get their children to the closest connection point," he said, adding that pupils aren't supposed to walk farther than a half mile to a stop.

Mr. Price said it's up to drivers to report unsafe road conditions.

"If they really think something should be looked at, then yes, we do expect them to report it and we would then send somebody out to make sure that's safe," he said.

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

Comments (84) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
adults
0
Points
adults 03/22/07 - 02:03 am
0
0
Mr. John Wilkins, guess you

Mr. John Wilkins, guess you would prefer children being let off bus in main highway, you're comments are stupid. guess ya on a money train.....get a life sir............

nonumberplease
0
Points
nonumberplease 03/22/07 - 02:17 am
0
0
why was this child permitted

why was this child permitted to play in the road?

Bing0
14
Points
Bing0 03/22/07 - 02:50 am
0
0
Is a 2 year old child

Is a 2 year old child supposed to be near anything without the supervision of a parent?

butterflygina
164
Points
butterflygina 03/22/07 - 04:24 am
0
0
Last night it seemed like the

Last night it seemed like the residents of that area were trying to blame the bus driver. This child is dead because of irresonsible parenting. I bet the school bus is not the only vehicle that has almost hit this child. Excuses, excuses.....Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse. There was a couple crossing the street in front of the mall (going to the parking lot). Tell me why (she was pushing the stroller) the young school ager was still in front the mall while his mom and dad crossed the street. As I rolled my window down to scream at the parents, dad turned around and noticed child crossing the street. A richmond county sheriff's deputy car was sitting right there, I hope the officer wasn't in the car as an officer did not approach the parents. They were so busy talking they were oblivious to the potential danger their child was in. I'd rather be overprotective than irresponsile any old day. 2 year olds run to the bus to meet their siblings. Adults are supposed to keep a hand on them, be it by keeping them locked down in the stroller, kiddie harnessed, holding onto them tightly or leaving them in the safety of others. Another child and family we pray for.

bone
23
Points
bone 03/22/07 - 04:31 am
0
0
did anyone notice that a

did anyone notice that a student who rides the bus said the little boy often ran alongside the bus?

butterflygina
164
Points
butterflygina 03/22/07 - 04:39 am
0
0
I also heard that the bus

I also heard that the bus driver had reported this to her supervisors. I just saw the picture of the dad that some people were outraged about. I wish he was the one getting the kids off the bus.

whatisthisworldcomingto
0
Points
whatisthisworldcomingto 03/22/07 - 05:54 am
0
0
When I first heard of this

When I first heard of this story my heart dropped, and I felt really bad for the family. But then I read that a student on the bus said that the little boy ran by the bus everyday. I quickly became very outraged! What kind of mother lets their 2 yr. old child run by a bus?!?! You never know what they are going to do in that split second. And the bus driver should have spoken to the mother in the past about keeping the "baby" away from the bus.

cc residents
0
Points
cc residents 03/22/07 - 06:00 am
0
0
The unfortunate circumstances

The unfortunate circumstances sourrounding the death of any child is unthinkable, and yes, the parents were negligant for not providing proper supervision (especially a 2 year old), however, beating them up through posted comments in the papaer is not going to bring this child back to them (God rest his little soul). Please remember that the parents and the driver of the school bus will have to learn to live with this unthinkable dissaster the rest of their lives. As for the 12 year old on the bus who stated the child did this all the time can't be held responsible either. I myself questioned his comment until I thought of my own 12 year old. Anyone who has had 12 year old child should know they don't have the capacity yet to fully think as a grown adult would in situtations as tragic as this. To lay blame anywhere other than on the parents is totally absurd. Hopefully other parents who read this story will take heed and not allow this to happen again.

cottoncandy16
28
Points
cottoncandy16 03/22/07 - 06:03 am
0
0
The people on the news keep

The people on the news keep wanting to blame the bus driver, she did her job, to make sure our kids get home safe and that the child getting off the bus exits safe. She can't do her job and the parents job. This mother needs to take responsibility for this accident. She should have been holding this childs hand. Bad parenting is not an excuse, women now days are not steping up to the plate as mothers.

grammar police
1
Points
grammar police 03/22/07 - 06:04 am
0
0
I wonder why the television

I wonder why the television stations were interviewing young children on air? Seems irresponsible (unethical).

bubba01
0
Points
bubba01 03/22/07 - 06:06 am
0
0
I agree, where was the mother

I agree, where was the mother when this child is always chasing the bus? I sure DFACS has been some how involved. It is just like them to leave children in an unsafe environment. How many more children have to die because of them?

gab91494
0
Points
gab91494 03/22/07 - 06:23 am
0
0
You know I can't believe how

You know I can't believe how Mr. Wilkins is wanting to step up and say something now. Where have you and other residents been this entire school year, the bus has been using the same route? Oh and by the way, you stated it is a private drive....since when does a private "drive" have a street name and a stop sign, besides if it is private property it has to be posted as such, if it is not posted it is not private. Read and understand the laws. Also, I agree with everyone else, this poor child should not have been across the street by himself playing. God forgive me, but I feel if any charges are brought forward it should be against the mother for child neglect and child endangerment!! Just as the woman in Warren County had to face. Yes, this bus driver called the main shop for transportation many, many times through out the entire school year and reported not only the child running along the side of the bus, but also the mother allowing him to do so and for them to call DFACS for them to come out and investigate. To the father of this child, my heart goes out to you and your other children, God speed. This child would be alive if the poor fellow would have had supervision..

kudzo-n-roses
2
Points
kudzo-n-roses 03/22/07 - 07:01 am
0
0
It was a horrible

It was a horrible accident...the ONLY person at blame here is the person who was responsible for the care of that baby.

thatgirlsam
0
Points
thatgirlsam 03/22/07 - 07:02 am
0
0
"he either ran in front of or

"he either ran in front of or under the school bus as it pulled away from a stop" Had the mother been watching this child, there would be no need for an investigation to determine how this happened. Where was the mother?? The bus driver will have to live with this for the rest of her life because of the negligence of this childs parent.

167167
0
Points
167167 03/22/07 - 07:09 am
0
0
Cottoncandy said it

Cottoncandy said it perfectly, & I am in total agreement w/ all of you. Parents have a very, very serious responsibility, which so many of today are not fulfilling. The plight of so many of today's children is so very unfortunate. I'm just blown away that a parent would allow a 2-yr-old to be near a moving bus under any circumstances. No excuse! It is our job as parents to protect our children who are totally dependent upon us as toddlers!

september 5th
1
Points
september 5th 03/22/07 - 07:33 am
0
0
there are many liable parties

there are many liable parties involved in this tragic accident: #1 the parents; #2 the bus driver and columbia county (who by the way will be sued and rightly so), the bus driver bears the largest responsibility because of the fact the children on the bus clearly state that this child ran along side the bus all the time...this bus driver should have refused to go that route until her supervisors addressed the problem..#3 the owner of the road should have called and told the county that his road is private and should not be used by county vehicles(in reference for the statement about the stop sign on a private road...be reminded that this is columbia county and any and everything goes...#4 the neighbors who are speaking out so loudly now probably have seen this child running along side the bus...there is plenty of blame to go around..also austin rhodes is quick to be critical of minority poor--wonder why he was not on his high horse demanding that the parents be arrested for child neglect? this family will sue and get lots of money and it does not seem right to be able to neglect your children and gain financially when something happens!

tturner
0
Points
tturner 03/22/07 - 07:45 am
0
0
The mother was responsible

The mother was responsible for watching her child. If she was paying attention to him, this would not have happen. The residents need to stop trying to find a reason why the mother is not responsible. That bus was dropping off their kids and not just riding by, how can you stop the bus from doing that. That was not the bus driver that cause the accident. She was just trying to get the residents kids home from school, doing her job. And again, the mother was wrong and she has to live with it. If she was their her baby would be here.

dbc
14
Points
dbc 03/22/07 - 07:45 am
0
0
The mother is to blame; pure

The mother is to blame; pure and simple. she failed to responsibly care for her child. He was surely too young to be out and uncared for.

gofigure
0
Points
gofigure 03/22/07 - 07:46 am
0
0
Thats right if all else fails

Thats right if all else fails blame the bus driver. My children ride a bus and I feel sorry for the poor driver who puts up with 30 screaming misbehaving children who fight,spit, cuss, vomit, cry, sleep and do all sorts of things on the way to and from school.Children today are not taught to respect anyone even the bus driver. This woman was doing her job. My heart goes out to her and the child's parents. Yes children run loose on that street all the time, just ask the mail carrier. They approach the trucks just like the buses. Where was the mother, well where are all the other mothers in that neighborhood while their children run out? Don't single the mother out. Accidents happen! Why is it when an accident happens, people are quick to place blame- Forgive and PRAY about it! The person responsible should accept responsibility if that is the case. This sad thing does not need any more sadness and the hurting will be an even longer process if this issue continues.

concernednative
28
Points
concernednative 03/22/07 - 07:47 am
0
0
It is certainly the mother's

It is certainly the mother's responsibility to watch a two year old. However, things to happen. But it seems that this was not a one time accident but continous bad parenting that had already been pointed out. I guess the bus driver should have reported her to DFACS but that really isn't her responsibility. It just is going above and beyond to help a defenseless child since the parent wasn't doing it.

carter
0
Points
carter 03/22/07 - 07:47 am
0
0
this wouldnt have happened if

this wouldnt have happened if the mother had been supervising this child.Why would u let your child run in the road beside a bus?U cant blame anyone but the mother.That bus driver has to live with this tragedy for the rest of her life because of irresponsible parenting.Im sure the mother wishes she would have been more responsible now.I pray for the family & the bus driver.To the bus driver i hope you can see your way through this it wasnt your fault,my heart goes out to u & the family of the child.My children are my life & i guard them with my life.they only know what they are taught & we as parents are the teachers.Children are a gift from god.Its up to us to protect them from danger & harm & to teach them what danger is and its possible effects.Its time for the irresponsible parents to start stop having kids/take parenting classes,or put their children up for adoption.Their is always someone out there n the world that cant have kids that would die to have one.Its something to think about

HGGP
0
Points
HGGP 03/22/07 - 07:50 am
0
0
To sue and to be sued! If the

To sue and to be sued! If the neglectful parents are allowed to sue the COBOE, then the bus driver should be allowed to sue the family for willful neglect. I don't care if they are rich, poor, black or white; ignorance knows no color. I have 6 children and each one of them will tell you that I was (am) over protective, but I still have them. I held their hands until they were darn near 10-12 years old. Children and some adults do not have the capability to walk near traffic, talk and watch what they are doing. It is a learned abilitiy that some just do not have or don't care to learn. While I pray for these parents and do not wish ill or harm to come to anyone the bus driver should not be held accoutable in this situation. The mirrors on the bus are good but they can not see a small child running that close to the bus. This is a travisty that all involved will have to live with for the rest of their lives. But I can almost guarentee that the bus driver will have many more sleepless nights over it than the neglectful parents will. The shame in all of this is that it was preventable! The Lord will hold these parents accountable on their judgement day!

september 5th
1
Points
september 5th 03/22/07 - 08:06 am
0
0
concernednative, who do you

concernednative, who do you think is going to call DFACS? parents do not call dfacs and request to be investigated! concerned citizens or people who see neglect are the ones that call...that is the way the system is set up! the bus driver did not have to have permission from her supervisors to call dfacs--she could have made a call herself! i wonder how many times she said: "i should call and report that mom?" now it is too late for this child but those who see evil and keep quiet are just as much at fault as those doing the evil...

pi
0
Points
pi 03/22/07 - 08:15 am
0
0
People always look for

People always look for someone to blame. Blame, Blame, Blame. You all want someone to be an ugly, devil here. I'm pretty sure none of you people were on the scene when this terrbile accident happened yet you all want to pass judgement on someone. You all are saying some very hurtful things about these people that are in the midst of the most horrible thing imaginable. I bet most of you call yourselves christians too, which is typical because you preach and preach and preach not to pass judgement on your fellow man yet it's all you ever do. I always heard "it takes a village to raise a child", I imagine it takes a village to kill one too.

Friends
0
Points
Friends 03/22/07 - 08:17 am
0
0
Responsibility is not only

Responsibility is not only with the mother but the bus driver, the Board of Education for allowing this continue on a daily basis.
#1. I would NOT work at at job that everyday I had to wonder if I was going to kill a child. I would not place myself in that situation. I would do whatever it took to make the Board, Child Protections Services aware of what was happening and that would include leaving my job - going to the news media whatever it took to protect a child. Also when a parent is at the bus stop with siblings it is the drivers responsibility to be aware of the surroundings not only inside of the bus but the outside. You have to look before you ever pull away from that stop. If there is a child close by then you should not move that bus a inch until that child is safe and secure.
#2. The mother should have had her hands on her child. If the child did chase or run after the bus child should of been safe and secure inside.
#3. In this high tech world of ours why do we not have sensors on buses that would let you know something is near the bus.
#4. Give me a break - you did not know that the bus was using the driveway..been going on for years. You live right there!

gofigure
0
Points
gofigure 03/22/07 - 08:17 am
0
0
Dear Della, Yes there is

Dear Della,
Yes there is procedure in CCBOE bus driving employment and bus drivers have to ask supervisors to do just about everything including taking a toilet break. She was propbaly told not to get involved so CCBOE would not be drawn into a law suit well it is a little late for that now. She also probalby needed to keep her job and if you are speaking up in any way they start writing you up first. Also, I am sure that the bus driver was not the only witness of a neglectfull parent where are all the others who could have called DFACS? This bus driver has been punished enough and I certainly wouldn't call her evil!

NEone
6
Points
NEone 03/22/07 - 08:39 am
0
0
Man, y'all are CRITICAL.

Man, y'all are CRITICAL. Hope you never have an "accident" with one of your kids. You'll be the first to scream lawsuit. The self-righteous attitudes this morning are disgusting.

thatsreal
0
Points
thatsreal 03/22/07 - 08:41 am
0
0
It doeesn't seem to me it's

It doeesn't seem to me it's the bus driver's fault so don't blame her. This child was 2 years old why was he out playing by himself?

ReneSR
0
Points
ReneSR 03/22/07 - 08:53 am
0
0
This was a tragic accident.

This was a tragic accident. Several things should be considered. Mr. Wilkins I find it very hard to believe that at no point you had any idea that a bus was using your private road. I can not believe that for a minute. For the mother of the child, you had options. You could have picked him up and held him when the bus was coming. Purchased the childrens leash to use only at that time, or maybe a little old discipline for making him understand you do not chase a bus. You played the biggest part in this. You are an adult and you were responsible for him. Allowing him to run along side a bus is wrong. Do not try to blame others for your mistakes. At that moment you were the only one responsible for him. The bus driver had mentioned this to you before and she told her supervisor. Maybe she should have called DFACS as well. She was doing her job keeping the children on her bus safe. Why is it that it really does not matter until an accident happens - then we want to blame everyone else.

newsperson
0
Points
newsperson 03/22/07 - 08:53 am
0
0
I agree with the fact that

I agree with the fact that the mother should have been watching this child. What kind of a parent would let their child play outside with out being watched, and especially the fact tht he would run beside the bus everyday. I mean get a grip on life this is not some pretend world that we live in where everything is safe and nothing can happen to us. For the bus driver I feel very sorry for her to know that she has to live the rest of her life knowing that she ran over and killed a 2 yr old child due to the parents negligence. For the kids that witnessed it, oh my god can you imagine how traumitizing that must be. I personally feel that this mother should be arrested and charged with neglecting a child and child endangerment, that would be the best thing they could do to let her and all of the other parents in the CSRA know that endangering and neglecting your child is unacceptable. I know it sounds harsh but I feel this mother should serve time for murder, along with the other charges, because basically that is what happened it was murder by negelecting and endagering the child. For the dad I feel very sorry for you and will keep you and the rest of your family in my prayers.

Back to Top
loading...
Search Augusta jobs