Mishap near school brings safety to the fore

Students cross Main Street in front of Parsons Middle School Monday afternoon with the assistance of a crossing guard for their protection. Parents are encouraged to remind their students to always use the marked crosswalks.

 

A grandfather is thankful that a situation that unfolded recently involving an inattentive driver and his grandson didn’t lead to injury or death.

The grandfather was waiting in his vehicle to pick up his grandson on the northwest side of Parsons Middle School. The school bell rang and before long students came pouring out, some crossing at crosswalks manned by school personnel, others crossing in random places.

He watched as his grandson attempted to cross the street where there was no designated crosswalk. A driver who appeared to be texting on her cellphone while driving bumped into his grandson with her car.

The grandfather leapt from his car. His grandson was OK, except for a scraped elbow. Two other people witnessed the incident.

The man said because his grandson was OK, he did not want to put him through calling the police. The family waited until that evening to email the school about what happened.

Once the school was made aware, Assistant Principal Tyler Gordon pulled the video and sent it to the school resource officer who was able to get the tag number and issue a citation to the driver.

“It was our understanding when law enforcement visited with her she didn’t know it had happened,” USD 503 Superintendent Lori Ray said. “I think this was a combination of no one paying attention, a student and an adult. It wasn’t a designated crosswalk, even though it was kind of in that area. We have our crosswalks manned. It was not a marked crosswalk, and the kid walked out into the street. And the lady hadn’t been paying attention or she would have seen.

“We’ve told the kids repeatedly, ‘You’ve got to use the crosswalk.’ We want people to help us by paying attention, but that goes for our kids, too. They need to pay attention. They need to use the crosswalks,” Ray said.  “I’m thankful no one was even hurt. We’re fortunate it wasn’t any major thing.”

The grandfather encouraged parents and grandparents to have a pick up plan for their students so they know where they are supposed to cross.

Parsons Police Chief Robert Spinks said the incident could have potentially been worse. While crashes have been on a decline for five years in Parsons, it doesn’t mean anyone in town can let their guard down.

“One of the things that came about with COVID nationwide is that traffic volumes went down, but speed and crashes went up,” Spinks said. “You have that with inattention, texting while driving. You might as well be drunk, because that’s the same impact your divided attention has when you are driving.

“There’s a lot of personal responsibility with driving a car, but we take it pretty cavalier lots of times until someone has experienced being in an accident, or is the victim of an accident, and then it becomes much more real to people. We hope the folks don’t have to experience that kind of pain, impairment or loss to really grasp how to exercise common sense.

“Here in a small town you have people on foot, on bicycles, joggers and runners. It is a constant job to keep an eye on what is going on around you 360 degrees,” Spinks said. “Those are safe zones around a school for reasons. It really does mean you’ve got to slow your speed down and you’ve got to be aware of what is going on around you, especially in a school zone for obvious reasons. It’s not rocket science.”

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