ASHFIELD, Mass. (WWLP-AP) — An elementary school in Franklin County brought in additional counselors on the first day of classes since a 9-year-old student was killed while getting off her school bus.
Students returned to Sanderson Academy in Ashfield on Monday for the first time since the Friday afternoon death of Summer Steele.
State Police Spokesperson David Procopio told 22News that Steele was getting off the bus on South Central Street in the western Hampshire County town of Plainfield, when the doors closed before she was clear. She was stuck in the door and dragged a short distance before she was struck by the bus.
The bus driver, whose name has not been disclosed, drives for F.M. Kuzmeskus. The Gill-based company released the following statement to 22News:
A tragic accident occurred on October 28th in Plainfield, MA involving a school bus owned and operated by FM Kuzmeskus Inc. On board were students from a local school.
Regrettably, the accident has taken the life of one of the students. We are greatly saddened by this tragedy and offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the family.
We pledge our assistance in working and cooperating with state and local authorities. We have also been in contact with school officials to apprise them of the situation.
While we cannot change what happened, we are deeply grieved for this tragic loss of life.
No charges have been filed.
Michael Buoniconti, Superintendent of the Mohawk Trail Regional School District, told 22News that he is working directly with F.M. Kuzmeskus to ensure that drivers immediately review all safety procedures. Particularly, Buoniconti says, he is stressing that buses should not move until drivers have seen that children are safely away from the vehicle.
In a statement, Buoniconti wrote:
Additionally, please be informed that I am encouraging my colleague superintendents across Massachusetts to do the same. Further, I am encouraging the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to impart this message to all state departments of education across the U.S.
A memorial service for Steele was held on Sunday at Sanderson Academy, a public school that serves students from Ashfield and Plainfield.
Summer Steele leaves behind her parents Brent and Amanda, and her young sister Skyler.
Click here to visit the gofundme web page that has been created to help the Steel family.