NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Some New Orleans City Council members want to move school bus stops away from busy roadways in an effort to keep children safe. The recommendations come on the same day a man is sentenced in the hit-and-run death of a young student last year.
The surveillance video is still difficult to watch. It shows 6-year-old Shaud Wilson crossing Paris Avenue to catch his school bus last February. As he ran across the street, Wilson was struck and killed by a Honda driven by Arthur Toledano, who then fled the scene.
After the accident, Wilson's grandfather, Llyod Goeloe said, "He hit him head on, knocked him up in the air, and I don't know how far down the street he traveled with my child, my grandchild."
Toledano was speeding at the time. After being convicted of manslaughter last week, he was sentenced Wednesday morning to 12 years in prison.
City Council members rocked by the crime, jumped into action. "One life lost is too many," Councilman Jared Brossett said.
A transportation working group studied the safety of school children at bus stops in the city and made some disturbing finds. Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell explains, "There are no mechanisms in place or policies that charter management organizations have to follow to ensure that bus stops are not in areas where kids have to cross four lanes of a major intersection."
The group recommends that bus stops be moved if it would prevent a young person from having to cross a major roadway. They'd also like the NOPD to bring back a program to deputize citizens so they can act as crossing guards. And they want to remove any obstacles children face in getting to the bus stop. Brossett explains, "Code enforcement, the city has to do their part to demolish houses that need to come down, and remove the brush that's overgrown over the sidewalk so the children can pass."
But the problem is, the city doesn't even have a system that identifies where school bus stops are. Cantrell says that can be easily fixed, with the purchase of a computer system. She believes all of the recommendations the working group will present to a transportation committee at City Hall Thursday are common-sense solutions to make sure no more lives are lost.
"Twelve years in jail will not protect future children on the streets of New Orleans but these recommendations will," Cantrell said.
The transportation working group plans to apply for a grant from the state for over half a million dollars to implement the solutions its identified.