‘You Just Let Him Out In the Middle of the Street’: Detroit School Bus Driver Charged After Allegedly Not Activating Stop Sign, Then Driving Off After Autistic 13-Year-Old Was Fatally Struck

A school bus driver in Detroit was charged in connection with the car accident that led to death of an autistic teen who was struck after getting off her carrier. The woman allegedly did not follow protocol put in place to alert ongoing traffic while a child is exiting the bus, causing the child to be fatally hit.

Debra White (left), Zyair Harris (Right)

According to a press release, Debra White, an employee at ABC Student Transportation, has been charged with Second-Degree Child Abuse and Failure to Stop at the Scene Resulting in Death by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office on Sunday, April 10, the same day the teen died of his injuries. 

It is alleged she failed to activate the bus’s stop sign and lights when she allowed 13-year-old Zyair Harris to exit her vehicle.  

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said the 65-year-old was contracted to carry students to and from their public schools in Detroit. While completing a drop on one of her routes on Wednesday, April 6, around 4:40 p.m., she stopped her school bus outside the entrance of an apartment, where one student, the victim Harris, lived.

He was then struck by oncoming traffic near Nevada and Healy streets as he left the bus. Harris succumbed to his injuries four days later at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.

The case will be reviewed again once WCPO has received new reports from the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office.

His mother places the blame squarely on White’s shoulders, WMBF News reports.

“It’s the bus driver’s fault,” Cassandra Jones said about her son’s death.

“My son was autistic, so you didn’t care, you just let him out, in the middle of the street,” the bereaved mother said. “And then when he got hit, she pulled out, she saw him get hit and still pulled off.”

Harris’ relatives hosted a service in memorial of the teen’s life where friends and family could talk about his life. The family is fundraising through GoFundMe for the actual funeral’s expenses. In two days, the family has raised almost half of the desired $15,000.

The boy’s godmother, Micaah Neal, believes the charge is a step toward “justice” and said the family was “going to get through it together.” 

Now, the boy’s village is asking motorists in residential neighborhoods to slow down as a measure to avoid incidents like this, claiming if everyone followed the traffic regulations, their loved one might be alive.

The probable cause conference is scheduled for April 19, at 8:30 a.m., and a week later, the preliminary examination on April 26, at 8:45 a.m. White soon could face more serious charges, as the initial ones were lodged before Harris died.

White, who is currently being held on a $50,000 bond, will go before Judge Kenneth King. 

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