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Children killed walking to Buckingham school bus

BUCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. -- Two children were killed as they ran across the street to their school bus Thursday morning in Buckingham County, according to Virginia State Police.

A tractor-trailer hit the children as they crossed Route 15, near Baptist Union Road, in Dillwyn at about 7:42 a.m.

Tori Perez, 5, and Jaiden Bartee, 6, both died at the scene.

The children were cousins, according to a man who identified himself as the grandfather of one of the children.

An adult family member was with the children at the bus stop, according to one of the children's parents.

Tori Perez, 5, was killed in Buckingham County.

What happened?

A tractor-trailer hauling mulch was traveling north on Route 15 as a Buckingham County school bus was approaching in the opposite lane, according to Virginia State Police.

"The school bus was traveling south on Route 15 and began slowing to pick up six children standing off the north side of Route 15," Geller said. "As the bus was slowing to a stop, two of the six children ran across the northbound travel lane towards the bus. The bus had only its yellow flashing lights activated."

The red flashing lights and stop sign are triggered when once the bus comes to a complete stop.

The school bus driver saw the children running toward the bus and saw the truck coming down the road.

"The bus driver told State Police that when she realized the tractor-trailer was not going to be able to stop in time, she frantically began motioning to the children to stop and get back off the side of the road," Geller said.

The children either did not see the driver or ignored the warning.

It was not until the truck driver saw the children run out that he knew he needed to stop, because the bus lights were still flashing yellow.

“There are no violations on this,” Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said initially, though later further investigation by the Virginia State Police Motor Carrier Safety Team found several equipment violations which resulted in the tractor-trailer being placed out of order.

"However, none of the violations would have had an impact on the vehicle’s ability to stop or avoid the crash," Geller said.

The 66-year-old driver was fully licensed, and based on witness account and the crash investigation, there will be no charges, police said.

Community response

"The community, school, and local clergy had been deployed at all level of the school system to work through this tragedy with children and employees," a Buckingham Schools spokesperson said. "The superintendent wants everyone to keep us in prayer during these times."

This is a developing story.

Witnesses can send information and photos here.