The Transylvania Times -

By Park Baker
Staff Writer 

Driver Charged After Children Struck On 276 - Brevard NC


The driver involved in an accident Friday morning that sent three Transylvania County school children to the hospital faces a felony charge.

The N.C. Highway Patrol has charged Floyd Hipps, 85, of Pine Shore Drive in Brevard with a felony failure to stop for a school bus.

A preliminary N.C. Highway Patrol officer investigation revealed that at 7:30 a.m., Friday, a 2013 Ford Explorer operated by Hipps was traveling east on U.S. 276.

A school bus, traveling west on U.S. 276, was at a bus stop (opposite the Connestee Falls main gate) to pick up children going to Brevard high and middle schools. The school bus driver had the stop arm and red lights activated while completely stopped within the roadway, according to the Highway Patrol. Hipps failed to stop and struck three children crossing the roadway attempting to get on the bus, according to the Highway Patrol.

The children struck were Lisa Conforti, 15, who was transported to Mission Hospital with minor injuries; Sean Conforti, 10, who was transported to Mission Hospital with serious injuries (non-life threatening); and Mackenzie Shuler, 9, who was transported to Transylvania Regional Hospital with minor injuries.

At the time of the incident, five to six other students were also waiting to cross U.S. 276 to board the bus, according to School Superintendent Jeff McDaris.

About 15 students from Brevard elementary, middle and high schools were already on the bus at the time.

After students on the bus arrived at school, counselors and administrators provided care for parents and students. All were given the opportunity to go home or remain in school for the day.

The school system runs 35 yellow buses on morning and afternoon routes. Of those, six are equipped with the eight-camera kit that includes a stop-arm camera, at a cost of roughly $4,000 per bus. The bus, No.77, involved in the accident is outfitted with dual interior cameras that feature GPS location tracking, DVR technology, and endless memory on a local hard drive to archive all events while the bus is in service, McDaris said. Stop-arm cameras are not installed on bus 77.

“We recognize thankfully that this situation could have been far worse, and encourage everyone to please (brake for buses),” McDaris said. “Drive carefully at all times, especially before and after school. Always be on the lookout for yellow buses with flashing lights and stop signs.”

In a study conducted by the Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (ASDPTS) in early 2014, approximately 76,000 illegal passes of buses in a combined 31 states were reported in one day nationwide.

That would equate to 13 million infractions in a full school year, according to the association.

North Carolina had the most number of school buses participating in that study, and 9,435 of those incidents happened in the state. The majority of illegal passing is done in the evening, according to the study, and most of the time school buses get passed on the left.


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