Girl, 8, dragged 900 feet by school bus

Staff & Wire Reports

State police say an 8-year-old girl was dragged 900 feet by her school bus when her backpack got caught in the closing door as she got off.

Troopers say the girl and her two sisters got off the Dansville Central School bus at 2:40 p.m. Wednesday in Ossian, 45 miles south of Rochester. The bus driver, 62-year-old John Coley of Wayland, told police he didn’t notice that the girl’s backpack had been trapped, and he drove 900 feet before he realized the child was being dragged.

The girl, Haley Heath, was taken to Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville for treatment of abrasions. She was taken home by her mother.

Another student, 8-year-old Michael Thomas, suffered a minor eye injury during the incident. He was standing up and struck his eye on the seat in front of him when the bus driver stopped the bus after hearing students yelling to him about Haley.

No charges were filed, but the school bus driver was placed on administrative leave.

Dansville Central School Superintendent Paul Alioto said the district conducted its own investigation, speaking with the girl, her mother, the driver, law enforcement, school nurses who responded to the scene, principals and transportation department officials.

“We will review the police report and debrief with law enforcement and transportation department employees throughout the day,” Alioto said.

He said the driver has an eight-year safe driving record with the district. Alioto added that while the district suspects driver error, the “district will also examine the possibility of equipment failure, review procedural safeguards and our safety training regimen.”