The death of a 7-year-old Arkansas girl last September prompted a non-profit company to collect donations to provide small flashing lights to children in grades K-3 for when they board the bus in early morning conditions to make them more visible to all drivers.
At the time of this writing, LifeNet, which offers ground and air ambulance services throughout northeast Texas and southwest Arkansas, was approaching more than $7,000 to fund the “Hannah’s Light” project — named after Hannah Martin. The second-grade student at Lake Hamilton Elementary School was struck and killed by a school bus at around 6:25 a.m. on Sept. 21, 2012, in front of her home.
According to a Sheriff's Department report, the bus driver slowed down at the student's bus stop, but continued to drive when he didn't see Martin, who was in the yard with her mother. When Martin saw the bus, she reportedly broke away from her morther, ran into the roadway and was struck by the bus.
LifeNet's initial goal was to raise $5,000 to provide one light to each of the 5,000 K-3 students in Garland County, where Martin attended school. To kick off the program, the company donated $4,000.
The company started the project after one of its paramedics, Bobby King, pitched the idea to management. Hannah’s Lights are small plastic flashing LEDs designed to clip onto a child’s backpack or clothing. The company said each light costs about $1. A link on the LifeNet website will allow the public or any other organization to donate to the program and receive a receipt for their tax-deductible donation.
"Injury prevention is always on our mind," said Melody Kastner, a spokeswoman for LifeNet. "If we can keep one child safe, then we have accomplished Bobby's vision and perhaps established something positive from this horrible event."
She added that the company hopes to expand the program for children in grades K-6, then of all ages, so they can be more visible to all motorists, not just school bus drivers. Since the program has technically exceeded its $5,000 goal, Kastner noted that she doesn’t know if the expansion will take place now or later. “The program is new and we’re not sure what the next steps will be because it’s taking off like crazy,” she said.
Eddy Poole, transportation director for the Lake Hamilton School District, one of the districts in Garland County targeted by LifeNet, said no details have been discussed on how the lights will be distributed, but said in an article that the district will work with LifeNet in any way it can.