School bus fatally strikes child in Jefferson County

December 22, 2021 GMT

FESTUS, Mo. (AP) — A school bus struck and fatally killed a first-grader Tuesday in eastern Missouri on the last day of classes before winter break.

“This morning we were singing Christmas carols together,” said Clint Johnston, the superintendent of the Jefferson R-VII School District, as he choked up during a news conference. “This is a bad day. A bad day for our school, a bad day for our community and we are hurting.”

Johnston described what happened as a “terrible accident” and said that “we regret it.” He said it was premature to try to describe what happened and said that an investigation was underway. He also declined to release the child’s name, saying he wanted to give the boy’s family time to notify all the extended relatives.

He said grief counselors would be at the school Wednesday, even though classes won’t be in session.

“Please keep our families and our community and our children in your thoughts and prayers,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough Christmas season for a lot of people. We’ll get through it. We’ll pull together, but this is not the way anyone wants to ever have to experience a holiday break, and we’re hurting.”

The crash happened near the town of Festus, which is about 30 miles (48.28 kilometers) south of St. Louis.