COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Less than a week ago, 11-year-old Lizzie Robertson Rutland was killed walking to the bus stop on McNaughten Road.
Now her family is using her tragedy to try to save other children.
“We just want to keep her legacy alive and in her memory,” great-grandmother Sharon Robertson said.
On Tuesday, they met with State Sen. Theresa Gavarone. She is behind a bill that would drastically increase penalties for drivers who illegally pass school buses.
“We want to become involved, not just for our children’s safety, but for all child safety. We didn’t realize how many issues there are,” Robertson said.
The bill is in the Senate Transportation Committee and if it passes, the fine would double to $1,000. Repeat offenders would pay an additional $250 and could face drivers license suspension.
Criminal penalties would also be harsher if a student is killed.
“People just really don’t take life into consideration the way they should, we want people to do that,” Robertson said.
There would also be a pilot program where districts across the state could apply for school bus cameras and August would be designated as School Bus Safety Awareness Month.
The family plans to push for this bill.
“Approach city council, school board, to help bring up these issues and initiate changes that need to be made not just in this area in the state,” Robertson said.
The senator posted to Facebook after meeting with the family:
“Brittany is an inspiration to me and I am motivated more than ever to get this important work done.”
Sharon Robertson said she knows Lizzie would be proud of what they are doing.
“If she was still here, she would be helping herself and take part in this initiative,” Robertson said.
Besides pushing for stricter penalties, people in the area said the street needs more lights and sidewalks.
NBC4 reached out to the city for a second time to find out how many crashes have happened on McNaughten Road.