Tragedy Strikes Middle School Student

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner

August 24, 2005

Eye-witnesses are describing a terrible accident that took the life of a middle-school student earlier today. It is an everyday occurance--children running towards the bus in the morning because they are late for school. Unfortunately, this everyday occurance cost Emily Woodward her life.

People came one by one to lay teddy bears and flowers at the site where 10-year-old Emily Woodward was tragically killed this morning by a school bus.

"The mother was screaming, 'baby, baby, don't leave me, don't leave me. Please come back to me'," said eyewitness Bryan Morris.

Morris heard the screaming and came running to try and help the trapped girl. "It was shocking. I mean her mother, the driver, everyone around was just in awe," he said.

The accident happened just after 7 a.m. at the corner of Elmwood and Birch Drives in Culpeper. Eyewitnesses tell police Woodward was running to catch the bus when she tripped, fell and became trapped.

Jay McMillan was on the bus and tried to help the little girl. "We climbed underneath to help her out. We unraveled the backpack from around her neck and you could see the indents around her neck, how tight [the strap] was, and her face was purple," McMillan explained.

Woodward was transported to Culpeper Regional Hospital where she was pronounced dead. The 25-year veteran school bus driver was also transported to the hospital where she was treated for symptoms of shock. All involved say it was simply a tragic accident.

"It was tragic because someone's life was lost today. The first day of school and that is not a good way to start the school year off," said Morris.

"Our family, our school family is heartbroken. Everyone is devastated," said Culpeper Schools Spokesperson Marla McKenna.

Emily Woodward was brand new to the area, only living in the home for about three weeks. School officials say they will have grief counselors on hand tomorrow at Floyd T. Binns Middle School to deal with the nearly 800 students affected by the accident. Right now there are no charges pending against the bus driver.

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