SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WCMH) – Gov. Mike DeWine joined hundreds in mourning the loss of a Springfield sixth grader Wednesday night. The boy was on the bus that crashed into an oncoming car just after 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.
He was ejected from the bus and died. 26 children were hospitalized after the bus overturned on the side of the road. The man authorities said is responsible for the crash has been arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter.
Gov. DeWine spoke from experience Wednesday night as he mourned with the community.
“Fran and I lost a daughter in an auto accident 30 years ago this summer. So, there’s, there’s nothing worse,” DeWine said after the vigil. “I wouldn’t pretend to give them any advice. There’s nothing that anybody can say or do that really takes away the pain.”
Gov. DeWine became emotional as he stood with his wife Fran outside the vigil Wednesday.
“When a tragedy like this happens there’s not much you can do other than just be here,” DeWine said.
DeWine said he is gathering a group of experts, bus drivers, lawmakers, and others to review school bus safety in direct response to this tragedy.
“Because of this accident, because of this horrible, horrible tragedy, we need to see if there’s anything else we can do to make these buses safer than they already are. I know the natural reaction as a parent or grandparent would be to say well, I’m not going to put my child on the bus, I’m going to take my child to school. We know statistically that’s a mistake, that school buses are the safest way to get to school,” DeWine said.
That conversation will include the topic of seat belts. Currently, Ohio students riding the bus do not have to wear seat belts.
“One thing we’ll have to look at is all issues regarding safety. Will the issue of seat belts come up? Of course,” DeWine said.
The entire community has been shocked by this deadly bus crash. Many parents laid flowers, teddy bears, and notes at a memorial site where the crash happened.
“Waiting for that afternoon bus to show up was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. My heart was just broken. As soon as our children got home, we held them as tight as we could. It’s going to be a long time to heal. This is a horrific way to start the school year,” said Bethany Bame the mother of a Northwestern student.
Pastor Alan Cain lives just down the road from where the crash happened on Ohio Route 41. He walked down there and stayed with families as they waited to see if their children were ok.
“The family found out their child wasn’t coming home. And the grief is just overwhelming. And the old saying misery loves company, misery needs company,” Cain said.
He pastors Lawrenceville Church of God, less than a mile away from the crash site. They hosted the community for a time of prayer, singing, and just being there for the families affected.
“The brain can do really hard things for a long time if it doesn’t have to do it alone… The tendency is to pull away when hard things happen. And darkness is going to feed darkness, so get it out in the light,” Cain said.
DeWine urged people to be there to support those struggling after the crash.
“It’s in a tragic time like this you want family, you want people around you. You want people who remember your child. Don’t be afraid to talk about the little boy. Five years from now, don’t be afraid to talk about him,” DeWine said.