The Washington Post

Elementary school student struck by bus in Beltsville; driver charged with endangerment

A Prince George’s County school bus struck and injured an elementary school student as he waited at a stop in Beltsville on Monday, and the bus driver, who police think left the vehicle unattended, is facing several charges, authorities said.

Police have identified the driver as 61-year-old Arturo Roberto Harris of Clinton and have charged him with reckless endangerment, leaving a child unattended and other traffic counts.

The boy, 7, suffered injuries that were not life-threatening and was taken to a hospital, police said. Four other students were also taken to the hospital. All five students were released from the hospital by early Monday afternoon.

The incident occurred about 7:15 a.m. in the 3600 block of Powder Mill Road, near High Point High School, Prince George’s County police said. Preliminary reports show the driver got off the bus and left it at an entrance to a parking lot at the high school for “reasons that are unknown,” said Officer Nicole Hubbard, a department spokeswoman.

Hubbard said the bus drifted across Powder Mill Road and struck a boy who was standing at a bus stop at Powder Mill and Glen Shell roads. The child was underneath the bus, and a “citizen who observed what happened pulled the little boy out,” Hubbard said. Police said that person is a Baltimore County auxiliary police officer.

School bus accident in Beltsville. (Prince George's County Police)

About 10 children of elementary school age and possibly some of middle school age were on the bus at the time, police said. One of the children on the bus complained of an injury, Hubbard said. All of the children on the bus were taken to a hospital for “observational purposes,” she said.

Police said the driver was not injured.

The incident was not the first Harris has been involved in while driving a Prince George’s school bus, according to court records.

Harris and the county Board of Education were sued nine years ago after a bus driven by Harris rear-ended a Chevrolet Caprice Classic on March 22, 2004, according to the records. It was unclear if any students were on the bus when the crash occurred at 2:20 p.m.

The driver and passenger of the car sued for medical injuries, and the case was settled, according to the lawsuit.

Max Pugh, a spokesman for the county schools, said that on Monday, Harris was driving a special bus route for students who are homeless.

“That’s why there were multiple ages on the bus,” Pugh said.

The students, who were from different neighborhoods, were being taken to the schools they would have attended before becoming homeless.

Ovetta Wiggins contributed to this report.

Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.
Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.

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