GREENWOOD, SC (WYFF) - Video has been released that shows an 8-year-old boy falling from a moving school bus earlier this month.
The bus surveillance video shows the second-grader falling out of the emergency door on the side of the bus on April 7. Jacquez White was taken to a hospital emergency room. His mother, Jaqueline White, said her son suffered lacerations on his elbows and his back and neck hurt, but he had no other injuries.
Jacqueline White said she could not get a copy of the video, so she recorded it as she watched it. She can be heard in the recording gasping when she sees Jacquez falling from the bus. (He falls from about five seats back on the right side, behind the girl in the blue vest.)
"My son was playing in his seat, but he at least was in his seat," she said. "They said that he leaned against the door. Well, the emergency door shouldn't be so easy to open. And once you do open it, that alarm is so loud he would have heard it. It never went off."
White said the principal of 96 Primary School called her after the incident. She said he told her that Jacquez's bookbag caught the latch of the door, causing it to open.
"I was frantic. I was like, 'Oh no! Is he OK?'" she said. "I'm like, 'I cannot believe you're saying this to me right now.' It was very heartbreaking.
"My child was playing and didn't know his life was in danger, and next thing you know, he was gone out the door.
"He fell off, and he said his head went back and he opened his eyes and he saw a red truck behind him and he got up and took off running toward the bus because he thought he was going to have to walk home. And he said his shoe fell off, so he grabbed his shoe and got back on the bus with one shoe on."
White said the bus driver was unaware that Jacquez had fallen until the children started screaming for him to stop because someone had fallen from the bus. She hopes precautions are taken to prevent any other children from similar falls.
"I hope for them to make sure all the doors are secure. Make sure the alarms are working. Go and check these buses before you let these kids get on there," she said.
"It should have been secure -- it really should have. It should never have happened. Regardless of if my son was playing, doing flips, doing cartwheels or whatever, the door shouldn't just come open like that."
"My child was playing and didn't know his life was in danger. And next thing you know he was gone out the door."
Wally Hall, assistant superintendent for operations of Greenwood School District 52, released a statement on Monday: "Immediately following the April 7 incident, the district began its investigation. Throughout that investigation, the District has remained in close communication with Ms. Jacqueline White, the parent of the student who fell from the bus.
"When the incident first occurred, the district notified law enforcement, which asked that the district provide a copy of the video recording taken by the camera located on the bus for their review.
"Also in accordance with established procedures, the District submitted all documentation regarding the incident to the South Carolina Department of Education, which owns all South Carolina school buses and is responsible for bus maintenance, for review and follow-up. This documentation includes a form for parents to sign which allows the parent to be reimbursed for certain medical expenses incurred as the result of an incident involving the operation of a school bus.
"Once law enforcement had completed their investigation, the district used the video recording to conduct an internal investigation regarding the actions of the bus driver. Following that investigation, the district took appropriate personnel action based on the conclusions reached.
"Throughout this process, the district has consulted its legal counsel to ensure that all appropriate processes and procedures were followed to protect the interests of all involved."
Hall said standard practice prevents school officials from discussing the details of the "appropriate personnel actions" taken by the district.
"Based on the video, the students were accidentally hitting the door mechanism causing the arm to dislodge from the secure position" he said. "In terms of policy changes and requirements for drivers, there have been no specific changes or additional requirements, but an emphasis placed on existing policy and procedures such as pre-checks and post-checks and monitoring seating charts."