Chesterfield family makes emotional plea for new school bus cameras

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.


CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. --Several times during a scheduled Chesterfield Board of Supervisors meeting it was asked if cameras mounted on the outside of school buses could make children safer in Chesterfield.

The Ford family addressed the board. They wanted to make sure those set to make the decision to possibly install stop-arm cameras could benefit students. Ollie Ford, 5, spoke with CBS 6 about an accident last year involving a driver attempting to pass his school bus.

"I went like this and then ended up falling," Ollie recalled. "I was like Superman, but then I was falling."

Ollie's mom, Amy, said they were the most terrifying seconds of her life.

"When I saw it happen my heart told me that my child had just died," Amy said.

Fortunately, her son survived after being hit by a car, just before getting on his school bus. Amy said to make matters worse, the driver didn't stick around to even find out the extent of Ollie's injuries. But the entire ordeal was caught on video from inside the bus.

incident video

"If there was no camera there then the driver might not be prosecuted for this offense," Amy said.

Amy and the Chesterfield School Board is now hoping the county will install cameras on the outside of 20 percent of the district's fleet, or 107 buses. The cameras could serve several purposes, deterring drivers from illegally passing buses, and catching violators who do pass stopped buses. But other options are also being considered.

"Home-side loading, making sure you are basically at the curb when you're dropping the children off," Chesterfield County Board of Supervisor Dan Gecker said.

During a pilot program in 2013, the district installed outside cameras on five of its buses for 32 days. During that time, 216 culprits were caught passing buses. Still the board voted Wednesday night to defer any decision for 90 days--until more information can be made available.

Meanwhile, Amy Ford hopes the board will come to a decision sooner rather than later, to prevent another similar accident from happening to another family.

"For the pain that just, it's like a lightning bolt that shoots through you," Amy described. "You can't get back that life."

Chesterfield school leaders told the Board of Supervisors there is no cost to the district. But the board still wants more information including how the $250 fine imposed to violators, would be divided up. The board plans to revisit the issue May 27.