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Who is to blame for teen's death at Pinellas Park bus stop?



A 17-year-old girl was struck and killed by a car this morning after she darted across a major street to try to catch her school bus.

Nora Hernandez-Huapilla and her friend were on the southeast corner of Nora70th Avenue and 66th Street when they saw the bus stopped at the pickup point on the opposite corner. Not wanting to miss the bus, the girls ran across 66th Street — within the crosswalk, but against the light, police said.

Within hours of the accident, parents and students were discussing who was to blame.


Two months ago, Hernandez-Huapilla's family had called the district to complain that the bus driver was not waiting for students who were held up by the light on 66th Street, associate superintendent Michael Bessette said.

Plenty of Pinellas parents complained earlier this year that the district's new bus system was an accident waiting to happen. Pinellas School District Superintendent Julie Janssen was asked this afternoon what she would tell parents who blame the new bus system.

Her response: "You know those are decisions that parents make when they choose to allow their children to go to a school that's not their zoned school. The information was given at the beginning that we would provide arterial transportation, and it was a requirement for the parents to get the children to those stops. And it's a choice that a family makes to have a child stay at a school that's different than the assigned school."

What do you think of Janssen's statement? Who is to blame?
  • The district for setting up bus stops at busy intersections.
  • The student who crossed in front of oncoming traffic.
  • The bus driver who, the family says, rushed the kids to get to the bus.
  • Or are parents solely responsible for ensuring their children get to school safely?

[Last modified: Monday, May 24, 2010 4:01pm]


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