BY FAITH HARPER
Counselors are on Chapel Hill campuses today for any children who need their services, the district said in a statement.
“Chapel Hill ISD is saddened by the tragic accident that occurred yesterday,” she said. “There are no words to adequately express our sorrow to the family for their loss and our prayers are with them. Our prayers are also with the bus driver and with our students and staff who know the family or were on the scene.”
Trooper Jean Dark, public information officer for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the incident happened about 3:25 p.m. in the 6800 block of Pearl Street, which is in the Morningside area just outside North Northeast Loop 323.
A mother was waiting for one of her children to exit the bus when 15-month-old Arra Preciado got out of the yard and ran toward the bus, Trooper Dark said. She said her mother thought the gate was closed.
“The driver of the school bus did not see the small child in front of the bus and she knocked the child down and the back wheels of the bus ended up running over the child and thus killing her,” Trooper Dark said.
Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Mitch Shamburger said the driver did not realize anything happened and continued driving away. About 75 feet from the scene, the driver was alerted by people banging on the bus to stop.
The child was pronounced dead at the scene.
Neighbor Christel Moncrief, 32, said she was welcoming her 11-year-old daughter Kyla home when she heard screams coming from down the street. She said she told her daughter to call 911 and ran to the scene.
Ms. Moncrief said the bus driver was hysterical once she realized what happened.
“I said, 'Please move that bus so the other kids do not see the baby in the road,'” she said. “She moved the bus, and she stayed there until the ambulance got here.”
Ms. Moncrief said she could hear small children crying, and she watched Arra's older sister walk home.
“She was coming up to the scene and had just come off the bus and they (a school security guard and a woman) grabbed a towel, wrapped it around her face and walked her to her house so she wouldn't see her little sister on the ground.”
It was an experience Ms. Moncrief said she would never forget.
“I've never seen something like that in my life,” she said.
Shamburger said the girl's body has been sent for an autopsy.
“Drivers need to be careful as well as children and parents — be aware of the situation because what becomes mundane … all of a sudden can turn into a tragedy,” he said.
Staff Writer Kenneth Dean contributed to this report.