Driver Of UA Bus That Struck Child Still Employed, Not Driving

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The driver of a University of Arkansas Razorback Transit bus that struck a 7-year old boy on Feb. 15 is still employed by the transit system but is not currently driving any routes, a university spokesman said this week.

The bus, driven by Christina Razinha, 26, was traveling 10 mph over the speed limit when the incident happened, but the driver did not receive a speeding ticket or any other traffic citation from investigating police officers, according to a Fayetteville Police Collision Report.

Because it is a personnel matter, the university cannot disclose whether the driver isn’t handing any routes because she has chosen not to drive or the system has removed her from the road, said spokesman Steve Voorhies on Friday (Feb. 28). The accident is being evaluated by the university, he said.

The bus was going 35 mph in a 25 mph zone at 573 N. Betty Jo Drive when the child, Michael J. Lewallen, ran onto the street, according to the police report. The speed limit was posted.

The boy received “severe tissue damage to both legs” when the front left wheel of the bus ran over his legs. The bus stopped before the back wheel could run over him, the report states.

Video shot from an on-board camera shows the bus was traveling 10 mph above the speed limit, according to the report. (The image pictured with this story, copied from the on-board camera, shows the child entering the street moments before he was struck.)

Speed was listed as a “contributing factor in the collision,” the report states. However, the boy “is shown to be primarily at fault for not yielding to traffic when crossing the roadway.”

The decision to issue a traffic citation is at the officer’s discretion, said Sgt. Craig Stout, police department spokesman.

The responding officer is listed on the report as Cpl. Christopher Clardy.

The boy was taken to Washington Regional Medical Center and later flown to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, where he underwent surgery, officials said.

Michael received no broken bones or internal injuries but had damage to skin and muscle tissue, said his stepfather, Daniel Zalsman.

Authorities at the site of the accident told 5NEWS the boy was playing chase with other children and ran onto the street.

“The bus honked its horn,” Sgt. Shannon Gabbard said. “The child recognized the bus was coming and tried to get out of the way and run back into the yard but just wasn’t quick enough.”

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