FRAZIER PARK (Thursday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m.)—Julie Nichols is angry today. The Frazier Park resident says her son at Frazier Mountain High School has been threatened by other students. She says The Mountain Enterprise newspaper, which did not use her name, spoke of a "Mom" in the print issue today, but did not tell what she experienced on Thursday, Jan.20. She wants to tell that now.
Nichols said that she has a weekday schedule which does not vary. She leaves her home with her younger son, who is 12, at 7:30 each morning. They stop in at Don’s Market on Monterey Trail for a couple of minutes to pick up water for his basketball practice and a muffin and milk for breakfast. Then she returns to San Miguel Trail to drop her son off at the bus stop and continue on to work.
Usually, she says, her son waits for the bus for about 10 minutes. It arrives about 7:50 a.m. to take him on to El Tejon middle school.
On Thursday, Jan. 20 Nichols said she and her son followed their regular schedule. But as they were exiting Don’s, they saw an El Tejon Unified School District bus crossing the four-way stop from Frazier Mountain Park Road to Monterey Trail at about 7:34 a.m. She said at first she was confused, because the bus was much too early.
Nichols thought perhaps it was the high school bus, but as she got into the car, she saw the bus pass the clinic building at the intersection of Mt. Pinos Way, then head up to her son’s bus stop. She said she felt panicked, and hurriedly drove up to the stop, stopping 15 feet behind the bus.
"He was at the side of the road, and I was on the road," she said. At San Miguel, she saw other surprised parents, "dragging their children like luggage, hurrying them along, unprepared for a bus arriving to the stop 15 minutes before its usual time."
At this point Nichols stops her story for a moment, and acknowledges that it is possible there is a printed schedule someplace in the school district that may say that the San Miguel pick-up time for El Tejon students may be 7:40 or so, but the constant time which the neighborhood has become accustomed to is 7:50 a.m., she said, then resumes the tale.
That Thursday, she said she was directly behind the bus when it pulled over onto the side of the road on the grade.
"It was strange, because there were about 3 or 4 kids at the stop who got onto the bus, but the stop sign wasn’t extended on the back of the bus." She said the other parents were running up the street, one she remembers coming from a house near the Mortenson Insurance office.
Her engine was still running and her son hopped out of the car, closed the passenger door, then stepped back to get his book bag from the back seat. At that moment, Nichols says the school bus rolled slightly backward on the grade.
"In the chaos of it I rolled over Dylans foot. I rolled back. The panic of it all was my fault as much as it was Chuy’s fault," NIchols says. She said the mother who had come from the insurance office area put her arm around the boy and asked him if he was ok.
"Dylan was just a deer in headlights," she says. "He didn’t say a word. he was very quiet as he got back into the car. I think he was just surprised at first."
Nichols says she looked up and noticed that the bus flipped the "stop" sign twice as it was trying to pull back onto the roadway. She said that was confusing to oncoming traffic and that drivers didn’t know what the bus was trying to do.
"The stop sign usually goes up when the driver is pulling over to stop and pick up children, not when they are pulling out to get back on the road," she said.
Nichols made a "U" turn and took her son down to the Mountain Communities Health Clinic in Lebec. She said she had to wait for about 45 minutes until it opened. They did an X-ray and gave him a boot-cast there. Her son’s little toe was fractured. "It hurts a lot," she said. He will have to wear the boot for about six weeks.
"I went to the district office right after I got out of the clinic," she said. "No one is trying to tarnish a 37-year record. That is not my intent. I witnessed a situation that caused another situation that caused an injury. I was not going to the school office because I wanted to sue the district I had no desire for it to have an impact on anybody’s job. I went to the school to report an issue that could affect the safety of other children."
This is part of the January 21, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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