Just over a month ago, 5-year-old Evans Elementary kindergartner Morgan Danielle Beverly died when her father accidentally backed over the youngster in the familys Martinez driveway.
For many, the tragic death immediately conjured up images of the Jan. 9, 2001 death of little Aleana Johnson - also a kindergartner, killed when her bus ran over her.
But among the differences in the two sad deaths is that little Aleana died as a result of an accident involving a government vehicle, while Morgans death involved a private companys vehicle at an employees residence.
Thats also why, nearly two years later, Aleanas accident is still in the news. All the paperwork hasnt been signed and sealed, but figures on both sides of the case say a settlement in a threatened civil lawsuit over the case has been reached.
Like all tragic things, it needs to be brought to closure, says Columbia County School Superintendent Tommy Price. The Johnsons have since moved to Augusta; the driver in the case works for the school transportation system but no longer drives a bus; and the countys pooled insurance policy will pay $500,000 - its liability limit under Georgia immunity laws - to the Johnson family.
Price is right; this case really does need to be brought to closure. The tree planted in front of Westmont Elementary in Aleanas memory lives on, and some of her classmates may receive happier reminders from that association.
A more concrete legacy will be new laws governing school-bus safety in Georgia. Aleanas Law, proposed last year by state Sen. Joey Brush, R-Appling, would turn some state bus-safety policies into law, improving parental notification of bus-route and timing changes.
The legislation, like many other pieces proposed by Republicans, died last year because of a partisan stonewall. Democrats who then ruled the Legislature bottled up GOP measures in a heavy-handed effort at stage-managing events to help their re-election chances.
The ploy failed. Now, with Republicans controlling the state Senate and a Republican taking over as governor, and with a conservative coalition poised to take control of the state House, Aleanas Law and other fair-minded legislation has a chance to be heard.
There is no way the Johnsons, or any other family who has lost a child, will ever be adequately consoled or compensated. But at least Aleanas memory can live on through improved safety for other children.
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