Family Of Boy Hit By UA Bus Retains Law Firm To Investigate

Michael Lewallan.jpg

The family of a 7-year-old boy hospitalized after being struck by a University of Arkansas Razorback Transit bus in February has retained a law firm to investigate the incident, according to a news release on Wednesday (April 2).

“The family is concerned about the speed at which University of Arkansas transit buses travel in residential neighborhoods and the safety of other children who live and play along bus routes,” according to the release from Russell B. Winburn of the Odom Law Firm in Fayetteville.

The bus that struck Michael J. Lewallen on Feb. 15 was traveling 10 mph over the speed limit, but the driver did not receive a speeding ticket or any other traffic citation, according to a Fayetteville Police Collision Report.

The bus, driven by Christina Razinha, 26, was going 35 mph in a 25 mph zone at 573 N. Betty Jo Drive when the child ran onto the street, according to the 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 above the speed limit, according to the report.

“This is 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,” according to the report.

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, officials said.

The boy has been through about 14 surgeries for injuries to his legs, groin and pelvis, according to the April 2 news release from the law firm.

“His recovery is progressing, but it is likely that Michael will go through years of treatment and rehabilitation, and the full nature, extent and permanency of his injuries won’t be known for some time,” the release states.

The boy attends The Owl Creek School in Fayetteville, said his stepfather, Daniel Zalsman.

Michael suffered no broken bones or internal injuries but had damage to skin and muscle tissue, Zalsman said.

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.”

8 comments

  • CAE

    Obviously sthe attempted to stop if the back wheels didn’t run over him. Those transit busses can’t stop on a dime like a passenger car. But I agree going 10 mph over the posted limit should warrant some kind of action (ticket from PD or punishment from UA).

  • atc8824

    Don’t let your children play outside on a busy street.Speeding or not the parent’s shouldn’t have let the child play chase on a busy street.Roads were made for cars,trucks and buses.I live on a busy street and it is my job to make sure my children are safe.

  • Happy, happy, happy

    Yep, knew this was coming….sue, sue, sue…parents don’t take responsibility for watching their kid, and they think something that someone else did must be the problem, and there are attorneys waiting to convince them that this is the case. Makes me want to find a trashcan and throw up

  • John

    How about UA bus drivers not drive 10 miles over the speed limit in a residential neighborhood known to be full of children? And, yes, the parent (or supervisor) of the child deserves some of the blame, but children are not automatons that obey 100% of the time.

  • atc8824

    That is why you look outside every few minutes to see where the little tikes went.Drivers are not always the problem.I almost hit a woman this morning because she parked in middle of road in turn lane and jumped out of her car to put up yard sale sign as another car and I turned onto road from main hwy she jumped right in front of my SUV I slammed on my brakes and was almost hit by the other unsuspecting driver behind me.People need to own up and take responsibility for their own actions and quit trying to sue everybody because you yourself mess up.

  • Angie

    At that age kids think they are 10 feet talk and bullet proof, but in the video also shows clearly that the boy didn’t look both ways, he just ran, and he try to stop when he heard the horn.

  • DLR

    I love how people post all these “assumptions” on here! Pointing fingers like they know whats going on. Has the family ever said the little boy was not at fault? Oh yeah all the ones commenting on here don’t even know the family so how could they possibly know anything but what the media wants us all to know. I know this child and his family very well and by the way he was at a friend’s house when the accident happened….for all the “blame the parents” screamers out there. Michael will ALWAYS live with the constant reminder of not looking before running into the street, his parents will always live with the guilt of allowing him to be at a friends house, but like the video shows him running out in front of the bus it shows the driver speeding as well…..she should have been cited plain & simple. Who is at fault isn’t for any of us to decide but laws are there for a reason & if you break one then there are consequences. So while Michael and his family may have fault the bus driver does too so if that means having to take legal action to make that clear or prove it per say then so be it. There are lawyers involved but it aint what everyone is making it out to be….no get rich & live high on the hog at their injured childs expense it is what it is a law was broken and action was not taken. He was ran over from below the waist and down who is to say if he had a half a second more he would have been out of the buses path? 10 miles per hour slower could have given him that extra half a second. Doesnt mean all the blame lies with the driver but all parties should b held accountable for their actions & i know the family takes partially blames themselves.

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