August 24, 2005
A morning that would normally be filled with excitement for many students starting school in Culpeper County quickly turned tragic today. A ten-year-old girl died this morning after falling in front of a school bus.
"Our family, our school family is heartbroken, everyone is devastated," said Marla McKenna, a Culpeper school spokesperson.
As Culpeper County schools welcomed back their students, they also mourned the loss of one of their own.
It happened at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. The county school bus had picked up eight 6th grade students and was on the way to pick up Emily Nicole Woodward and head toward Floyd T. Binns Middle School.
"Her mother [ran] across the street all hysterical [saying] 'my baby, my baby'," said Tiffany Smith, a witness.
The family had just moved into their apartment three weeks ago. Since this was the first day of school, they weren't aware of the bus patterns. Witnesses said as the little girl ran up to the moving bus she thought was hers, she slipped and was pinned underneath the first set of wheels.
"She tripped, or she fell, my brother said he's not sure if maybe the bus skidded up against her and caused her to fall but, when she fell she fell underneath the bus. Her mom was down there [at the scene] trying to talk to her but, we weren't getting a response back. She wasn't moving," said Smith.
Paramedics couldn't save her. Witnesses said Woodward died 20 minutes later at the Culpeper Regional Hospital. The bus driver, who has driven the same bus route the last 25 years, was also taken to the hospital for shock.
"She's been described to me as one of the best," said McKenna.
Police are still investigating and there is no word yet if the bus driver will be charged. None of the children on the bus were hurt however, some of them are meeting with grief counselors.