ROCHESTER, Ind. — The family of 9-year-old Alivia Stahl and her 6-year-old twin brothers, Mason and Xzavier, urge drivers to pay extremely close attention to school buses and school zones.
The three children were killed on October 30, 2018, in Rochester while crossing the road to board their bus.
“My kids died on October 30, 2018, and so did I,” Brittany Ingle said.
Driver Alyssa Shepherd was convicted of reckless homicide, criminal recklessness and passing a school bus causing injury. A judge sentenced her to four years in prison in addition to home detention and probation.
“Three beautiful children are gone, and they’re not here for anything, for back to school time, for Christmas,” Ingle said.
Michael Stahl, Alivia’s dad, joins Brittany in urging people to slow down around school buses and stop when the stop arm is out.
“People are in a hurry, they’re impatient, they’re tight on time then they end up passing these buses,” Stahl said. “Taking a chance of, you know, us losing more children. It’s important that you just give yourself more time. It’s worth it. These are our children.”
Remember, all drivers must stop if the stop arm is out and lights are flashing. The only time drivers do not have to stop is on a divided highway not traveling the same direction as the school bus.
“Exceptions to the stop arm rule are if you are on some sort of a divided highway, whether that be a highway with a grass median or the wire rails or guard rails,” explained Devon McDonald, executive director of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
More than 200 Indiana police agencies are now boosting their patrols this fall to crack down on school bus stop-arm violations and dangerous driving near school bus stops and in school zones. Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the extra patrols and urged drivers to keep watch for school buses in the weeks ahead.
Bus drivers and school transportation officials will help police identify areas where extra patrols are most needed during the effort.
“Watch your schedule. If you know you follow a school bus route, maybe plan your travel for 10 minutes prior or 10 minutes later,” McDonald said.
Alivia, Mason and Xzavier’s parents want people to remember that nothing is more important than children’s safety.
“It’s our responsibility as a community and as adults to look out for our kids,” Stahl said. “So you should take any and every step possible to do that.”
School bus locations are set by the school district. Families can contact their school district’s transportation department if they have concerns.