Garner Cleveland Record

Driver won’t face charges in 14-year-old’s death

The Highway Patrol said Wednesday that it will not file charges against the woman who struck and killed a 14-year-old high school student who ran into the road as she was trying to catch a school bus on N.C. 50 south of Garner.

Maria Jimenez died when she was hit by a car and thrown into the side of a stopped school bus about 6:30 a.m. on March 25, according to the Highway Patrol’s accident report.

The southbound bus had come to a stop to pick up students at the corner of J R Drive, according to Trooper A.Y. Stone’s report. Stone filed his report after the patrol’s crash-reconstruction specialists examined the scene, said 1st Sgt. Jeff Gordon, a Highway Patrol spokesman.

It appears that Jimenez, who lived on Benson Road diagonally across from the bus stop, was headed toward the front of the bus, running at an angle across N.C. 50, known locally as Benson Highway.

Terri L. Guttery of Willow Spring was driving north, in the opposite direction of the stopped bus, when Jimenez ran out in front of her, according to the accident report.

The bus’s yellow lights, indicating it was slowing down, had been on, troopers said the day of the accident, but the red lights and stop arm had not been activated, according to the report.

Guttery, the report says, was going about 40 mph in the 55 mph zone when Jimenez ran into the road.

The impact threw Jimenez onto the car’s windshield, and she apparently then fell off into the side of the bus, Gordon said. Guttery stopped in driveway a short distance from the accident.

The bus that was picking up Jimenez is equipped with flashing red lights that operate when the bus driver opens the bus door, said Wake County Public School System spokeswoman Renee McCoy.

The state’s guide for people who want licenses to drive school buses tells drivers to check traffic before opening the bus door. It also tells drivers to stop 15 feet short of the designated bus stop, which Gordon said is a sign post at J R Drive.

The accident report shows the bus stopped short of the corner.

The DMV’s driver handbook tells license applicants, “DMV collision reports show that some of the most serious school bus collisions occur while passengers are loading and unloading.”