WHITEFISH — Parents in the Flathead are still in shock after a six-year-old girl was struck by a vehicle while attempting to exit her school bus and cross US Highway 93 on Nov. 12.
The Montana Highway Patrol reports that the student, Jordana, was attempting to exit her bus and cross the street when a driver failed to stop for her school bus. Whitney Trainer’s daughter, Rylee – who also attends Olney-Bissell School, just got off the bus, when she heard a commotion down the street.
“A bunch of sirens, police cars, ambulances and stuff. But I didn’t really think anything of it. I just thought ‘ok, there’s a bad accident.’ Rylee was home, so I didn’t think it was the bus,” Whitney said. “The next day, I found out it was a little girl who was in her class, that was on that bus, that got hit," explained Trainer.
MHP Trooper Raymond told MTN News that as the investigation continues it appears the driver was going around 40 mph when Jordana was hit by the vehicle.
Whitney says the accident deeply affected Trainer because the child hit could have easily been hers. She told MTN News that the accident has changed her pick up and drop off protocol with her daughter.
Whitney and her family live off of US Highway 93 and prior to the accident Rylee used to stand on the porch and wave to her daughter as she got on the bus.
"At first I wasn't standing down there with her. You know, I would just stand on the porch and watch her get on the bus,” Whitey explained. “But now, it's like I want to stand down there with you, and wait for you to get on that bus,' said Trainer.
School bus safety concerns extend across Flathead County.
When Kalispell mom Kimberly Schexnider heard about Jordana's accident, she told MTN News, it made her even more concerned for her son's bus safety.
"I pretty much go on the bus and grab his hand. He's a runner, he doesn't have a concept of danger. A lot of little kids don't. They don't think they're going to get hurt. So, it's up to the drivers. You have to obey the law," said Schexnider.
Montana law states vehicles on both sides of an undivided highway must stop when a school bus stops.
As of Monday, Jordana's family says she remains in critical condition at the hospital.
The Whitefish Fire Department and Olney Fire and Ambulance both have fill the boot fundraisers at their locations to help Jordana and her family. Donations can also be dropped off anytime at 275 Flathead Avenue in Whitefish. A meal train has also been created for the family.
Charges are still pending against the driver as authorities wait for toxicology results and continue investigating; the driver's name has not yet been released.