A resident of Avery Park was arrested after striking a 5-year-old student who was getting off the school bus on Monday and then driving away.
The driver, identified as Gloria Kimberly Blevins, was later found at her residence in Avery Park.
Delainey “Lulu” Pedrick, a kindergartner at Elm Street Elementary, was hospitalized after Blevins reportedly drove her Hummer around a stopped school bus and struck Pedrick while she was crossing the street, according to Deputy Chief Mark Cooper with the Newnan Police Department.
“After the child began to cross the street, a grey Hummer 2 came from around a curve, changed lanes into oncoming traffic, passed two stopped cars and the bus,” Cooper said. “The bus driver attempted to stop the child and Hummer 2, but was unable to get the attention of the child, and the driver continued past the bus.”
When the child stepped out from the front of the bus to cross the street, Blevins struck the child with the front passenger side bumper of the vehicle.
After she left the scene, police placed a lookout for the vehicle and were able to locate Blevins shortly thereafter at her residence.
Blevins, 43, was charged with DUI – combined influence – less safe, leaving the scene of accident with injury, duty upon meeting a stopped school bus, and passing in a no-passing zone, according to police.
Blevins was released from jail Tuesday afternoon on $15,600 bond.
Pedrick was airlifted to an Atlanta-area hospital after sustaining several injuries, including a broken leg and eye socket, according to family members. Her current condition is unknown.
Cooper said the incident was an entirely avoidable one.
“It’s yet another reminder for people to be aware and respect the red lights and stop signs on a school bus,” Cooper said. "It means a child is exiting or getting on the bus, so please be mindful of that."
After the incident, Dr. Christi Hildebrand, principal at Elm Street Elementary, and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Marc Guy, got on the bus and personally walked each child to the front door of their home to meet with their parents.
Natasha Sikes was one of the parents contacted after the incident on Monday. Her son was on the bus at the time and witnessed the accident.
“It was sickening,” Sikes said. “Those were two bad decisions on the driver’s part – ignoring the stop sign and deciding not to stop after hitting the child.”
After hearing news of the tragedy, members of the Avery Park neighborhood have organized to help out the Pedrick family.
Paula Marzec, Avery Park President, is hosting a Meal Train for the family and hopes to have the next two weeks covered while the family deals with the fallout from the incident.
“We have extended it out another two weeks because of the response from those who want to help,” Marzec said. “We will also be collecting gas cards to help, since the family is not sure when she will be coming home.”
The link is: https://mealtrain.com/5n0grz
The organization is also collecting Halloween candy for Pedrick, who will be unable to participate in trick-or-treat and other Halloween activities, at the clubhouse at 175 The Boulevard tomorrow from 3 - 4 p.m. and again from 5 - 5:30 p.m.
“We hope to have a trunk-or-treat event for her once she’s finally out of the hospital,” Marzec said.
The investigation into the incident remains ongoing, according to Chief D.L. “Buster” Meadows with the Newnan Police Department.
“This is the most obvious example about why you don’t drink and drive,” Meadows said. “It impairs your judgement and tragedy happens. You preach it and preach it – alcohol and driving don’t mix, because that’s a 5,000-pound dangerous combination.
“It’s a blessing she wasn’t hurt more seriously than she was,” Meadows continued. “There is no excuse. When lights are flashing, a child is getting on or off the bus, so stay stopped.”