A kindergarten student is recovering at home today after being hit by a Hall County school bus Wednesday morning.
From the front steps of her home on Bird Road in Gainesville, Amanda Ritson watched as her son Kenny was hit while the bus pulled away from its stop.
"When I ran down to him all I could think was, ‘What am I going to see?'" Ritson said when reached at her home Wednesday. "...I saw him crying. I knew that he was at least able to breathe and scream at me and that's what mattered."
The 6-year-old Lanier Elementary student was taken by ambulance to Northeast Georgia Medical Center where he was treated for deep bruises and cuts, but no broken bones.
"The fact that Kenny Ritson doesn't have what looks like permanent injuries is certainly a blessing, especially given how potentially dangerous the situation was," said Gordon Higgins, spokesman for Hall County Schools.
Jewel Armour, the school system's director of transportation, said the bus driver, Marcie Scroggs, looked for Kenny when she noticed he had not boarded the bus with the other students. She pulled in the safety arm in front of the bus and drove away, not realizing she had hit the boy, he said.
Kenny's mother said the safety arm on the front of the bus began closing as her son walked in front of the vehicle, hitting him and throwing him to the pavement. As the bus drove away, it ran over her son's foot, she said.
"The school bus driver, bless her heart, she did not see my son," she said.
Ritson said she is relieved her son is OK but upset over description the school district used in its initial news release that said Kenny "darted in front of" the bus. She believes that implied her son was at fault and was reckless.
"My kid does not dart in front of moving vehicles," she said. "He's 6 years old. For heaven's sake, he knows better."
Higgins said " ‘darted' wasn't the best choice of words," but it was not the district's intention to imply that Kenny was being reckless.
While investigators were at the scene, the other 15 students on on the bus were transferred to another bus. Counselors visited Kenny's classroom Wednesday morning to tell the students their classmate was in an accident but was OK. And they were available to answer any questions.
Ritson said she will take Kenny to a plastic surgeon today to see if he needs skin grafting. His leg and hand are swollen, but he was on medication and sleeping through much of the pain on Wednesday, she said.
"I'm very relieved that my son is OK," she said.
"That's the only thing that mattered to me."