MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) – A heartbreaking story took place on Monday, November 21, 2011, at Oakshire Elementary School in Whitehaven.
A daycare bus hit and killed a 6-year-old boy just after school let out in the parking lot.
“I was just shocked that this happened here,” says Gloria Henderson, the mother of an Oakshire third grader, “because we never had an incident like this at Oakshire before.”
Police say the child was hit by a daycare bus from the Pee Wee Wisdom Child Care Center.
The boy was rushed to LeBonheur, where it was confirmed he died.
“I’m almost speechless right now," says Willie Rhodes, Southwest Regional Superintendent for Memphis City Schools. “Our children are our most precious commodity, and to lose one of them at all is tragic. But to lose them in this way, is really devastating.”
As Memphis Police conducted their investigation, many questions remained unanswered.
What happened? Did the boy run in front of the bus? Did the bus driver lose control?
“We don’t know at this point,” Major Loris Hopkins of the Memphis Police Department tells abc24.com. “We’re getting different statements from witnesses. We are questioning the witnesses. We are conducting our investigation as to exactly what happened.”
One eyewitness, who lives across the street, tells abc24.com she saw the entire incident unfold. She confirms the bus hit the boy.
It was a tragic ending to a school day, and as Major Hopkins says, “It is just a sad incident all around.”
Adding to the mood, Thanksgiving is just a few days away, a time when families give thanks for life's blessings.
While police worked on the details of the accident, it was made clear that there were adult supervisors in the school’s parking lot when the accident took place.
“There are protocols in place that we normally use,” Rhodes says, “with adult supervision at all times to get them to and from the bus.”
Whatever the investigation reveals, it may not be good enough for an upset mother.
“We come out here every day and pick our children up,” says Henderson. “The buses line up here. The children wait there. So, how did the day care van hit him? I don’t understand.”
When abc24.com contacted Pee Wee Wisdom Child Care, we were told those in charge were on an errand and to call back later.
When we inquired as to who to ask for, the person on the phone for Pee Wee Wisdom hung up.
Pee Wee Wisdom may sound familiar. In 1999, two-year-old Brandon Mann died after being left in a hot day care van at the Pee Wee location on Millbranch.
In 2003, the Pee Wee Wisdom Learning Center went up in flames. All 61 kids made it out safely. That fire happened at the Whitaker location.
And the former owner of the Pee Wee Centers pleaded guilty in 2003 to stealing money that should have been used for children.
Vivian Braxton stole between $10,000 and $60,000 of state money.