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.”