Christy and Howell Johnson want their daughter's legacy to live on at Westmont Elementary School.
In a small ceremony Wednesday with family and friends, the Johnsons planted a dogwood tree in memory of their eldest daughter.
Howell and Christy Johnson met with well-wishers to plant a tree in the Aleana Johnson Memorial Garden at Westmont Elementary School.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Five-year-old Aleana, a kindergartener at Westmont, was killed on Jan. 9, 2001, after she was crushed by the wheels of her own school bus. She had knelt in front of the stopped bus to tie her shoe.
"I wanted a tree that would grow as Aleana would have grown," Mrs. Johnson said. "I think a dogwood is perfect."
Kim Christiansen, chief financial officer of the Friends of Aleana, briefly spoke about the events of a year ago and the crusade that the Johnsons have embarked on.
Since their daughter's death, Christy and Howell Johnson have devoted themselves to school-bus safety. Traveling throughout the state, the Johnsons have met with legislators, school officials, bus drivers, pupils and parents.
The Johnsons have dedicated their lives to bus safety "in hopes that no other family has to deal with such a tragic loss," Ms. Christiansen said.
Later this month, two legislators will introduce a bill that would require school buses to adhere to published times of the designated routes and schools to focus on driver training and bus safety equipment, such as mirrors.
The bill, which would amend existing law, also would prohibit drivers from using a cell phone while loading or unloading passengers.
"I wanted a tree that would grow as Aleana would have grown. I think a dogwood is perfect." - Christy Johnson, mother of Aleana Johnson
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