7-year-old girl killed by truck after getting off school bus

Calhoun County School superintendent Lisa R. Langford said counselors were available at the school Thursday to help with the crisis.
Calhoun County School superintendent Lisa R. Langford said counselors were available at the...
Calhoun County School superintendent Lisa R. Langford said counselors were available at the school Thursday to help with the crisis.
Published: Dec. 11, 2020 at 7:23 AM EST
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VARDAMAN, Miss. (AP) — A 7-year-old Mississippi girl and her younger brother had just gotten off a school bus when they were hit by an 18-wheeler, killing the girl and seriously injuring the boy.

The driver of the lumber truck was charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault after Wednesday’s crash. He is being held in the Calhoun County Jail in Pittsboro, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.

Calhoun County Coroner Salena Westmoreland said Valeria Montero, of Vardaman, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her 5-year-old brother suffered a broken hip and femur and was airlifted to a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. His current condition was not immediately available.

Vardaman Police Chief Kenneth Scott said the accident happened shortly after school let out Wednesday afternoon. The bus was headed west on Highway 8.

“The kids just got off the bus and had to cross the highway to get to their house,” Scott said. “Their house is actually in the county but the driveway is in the city limits.”

The wreck happened on the two-lane state highway. That section of the road curves to the right as it goes uphill, creating some visibility issues.

An eastbound gravel truck stopped well in front of the stopped school bus. But a second eastbound truck, an 18-wheeler hauling rough-cut lumber, didn’t stop in time.

“(The driver of the second truck) went to the left to avoid the gravel truck,” Scott said. “Then he swerved back to the right and went between the gravel truck and the bus.”

James Thomas Murphy, 70, of Vaiden, was taken into custody at the scene. He’s being held on $50,000 bond. It was not clear whether he has an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

“A lot of people are hurting right now because of this,” Scott said. “The little girl was in my granddaughter’s class and was a good friend. And the bus was loaded because this was one of the first stops.”

Calhoun County School superintendent Lisa R. Langford said counselors were available at the school Thursday to help with the crisis.

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