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Witnesses testify about JCPS protocol in trial of bus driver who dragged student

Updated: Jul. 14, 2021 at 5:46 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - During the second day of the civil trial for a former Jefferson County Public School bus driver, several current and former employees with the district’s Department of Transportation answered questions about protocol when loading and unloading students.

Melinda Sanders is on trial after video showed her driving a bus that dragged a 6-year-old girl more than 1,000 feet in 2015.

Tuesday, WAVE 3 News obtained new surveillance video of the incident that was recorded inside the bus. It showed a 6-year-old girl getting her backpack caught in the door as she tried to leave the bus. Sanders didn’t appear to notice and took off.

As the bus dragged the girl for several blocks, the video also showed Sanders run a stop sign, and allow an older student to stand out of his seat while the bus was moving. Sanders was later fired by the district after an investigation determined she did not watch as the child got off the bus, as required by their training.

“I think it’s horrible,” JCPS school bus driver and trainer Katrina Ferral said during testimony Wednesday. “You watch them get off the bus, you close the door. When they’re away from the bus, close the door, you look in that mirror and you watch them. They have to be 10 feet away before you pull off.”

Added JCPS bus driver Natasha Williams: “We are transporting children and you want to be able to keep them safe, to know where they are so that you don’t run over them or do things to hurt them.”

Later Wednesday, expert testimony recorded in 2019 from Dr. Sheldon Bond, the child’s pediatric surgeon -- was presented to the court. He detailed the injuries she suffered immediately following the incident.

“This was the area of major injury,” Bond said as he pointed to the child’s upper left leg. “We had some skin loss here and some skin loss there (points to each leg). This was a very big abrasion which was scrubbed.”

The child, identified as A.R. in the lawsuit, suffered severe nerve damage and PTSD. She’s had to have multiple surgeries and still continues to recover.

In the civil trial, A.R.’s family is asking for an undisclosed amount in damages. The trial will resume Thursday.

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