FLORESVILLE -- New video shows the moments a fifth grade boy is struck by a car boarding his school bus. The incident, which happened in mid-September, ignited outrage within the community.
The black-and-white security cam footage shows the moments after the driver, Rick Barker, pulls his bus over on the side of the road on Hwy 181 near Floresville North Elementary. Barker says that it was his first stop of the day and, as such, the only other person on the bus with him was a bus monitor/driver-in-training.
All appears normal in the video until, all of a sudden, Barker begins blaring on his horn. Moments later the silhouette of the child is seen in the headlights outside the door as the car hits him head-on.
“As soon as I opened the door I knew,” Barker recalled. “You could hear it. You could hear the child hit the hood of the car.”
The bus monitor immediately races out the door to check on the boy, Jorge Leijas Jr. Meanwhile, Barker gets on his radio and begins calling for emergency assistance.
“When his mother came out, he was in shock,” Barker said. “All he could do was blink.”
Leijas was airlifted to University Hospital, where he made a quick recovery. Floresville ISD Superintendent Dr. Sherri Bays says it’s the quick thinking of Barker and the monitor that led to Leijas getting better and back in class so swiftly.
“They had a welcome back for him at North Elementary,” Bays said. “I guess the principal organized something. So he’s glad to be back, all of the kids are glad he’s back.”
But questions still remain about the driver.
The Department of public Safety presented charges to the district attorney, which include injury to a child and reckless endangerment. KENS 5 asked the DA’s office if they would pursue those charges, but they didn’t respond to our calls.
The district says that Leijas has not ridden the bus since returning to school, although they will offer additional staff to accompany him if he does decide to do so.
The district also plans to award Barker and the bus monitor with what they call a Community of Character Award, recognizing their quick thinking in saving the boy.
Barker says it’s still painful for him to remember the incident. Even today, it still gives him pause. He hopes it has the same effect on other drivers.
“I get nervous when I stop,” Barker said. “It’s just a bad decision to make. That’s just not the place to go past the bus.”