"Gardian Angel" school bus safety light tested at Springfield Local Schools

Published: Aug. 9, 2018 at 12:37 PM EDT
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Steve Gardner remembers hearing the news of 15-year-old Morgan Duris being hit and killed on Erie Road in Sylvania in 2010 while boarding her school bus.

The lights flashed, and the stop sign came out, but she never made it on the bus. A car, driven by a 66-year-old woman, hit and killed Morgan as she was crossing the street.

The tragic incident prompted change.

That's when Gardner got the idea for the Gardian Angel school bus lighting system to prevent future tragedies.

"First thing the driver that hit her said is 'I never saw her,'" said Gardner.

The Gardian Angel LED light mounted on a school bus lights a pathway across the street after the driver stops and waits for the children to board.

"You can see them, they can see you, they can see the oncoming traffic, the traffic sees them. [It's] much safer," said Swanton bus driver Tammy Spivey.

Swanton bus driver Tammy Spivey has driven for 40 years. She tested the product last year.

"When you're out there and it's dark and you pull up to your stop and you open that door, all of a sudden that invisible child is visible because he's got a light shining on him," said Spivey.

18 states use the system, including school districts in Michigan like Bedford. Gardner says he's worked for a long time to bring the product to Ohio schools.

"Ohio has been the absolute most difficult state to get it approved in. We've been down to Columbus eight times," said Gardner.

In August, the Ohio school board construction standards committee finally approved the product for use.

Thursday, Springfield Local Schools became the first district in Ohio to test it out.

The director of transportation at Springfield Local Schools, Ron Smith, bus drivers in the district, as well as the Assistant Superintendent Troy Armstrong, agree this beam of light can improve the safety of children boarding the bus.

For now, a single light on one bus has been installed. Gardian Angel donated the light for Springfield to test out, and if the district finds it effective, more could be added.

"In our upcoming levy we have an additional .9% on to our levy which is going to be used on safety and security and this could be an ideal tool for safety of our students," said Armstrong.

Gardner says not all school districts need this product, such as TPS where most bus routes are in areas with street lights. But on routes not well-lit, the light could save a life.

"It's my highest hope we can get a lighting system on the bus route Morgan Duris used to ride," said Gardner.