UPDATE: Driver charged with hitting student released on bond

Becky Campbell • Updated Nov 27, 2018 at 7:16 PM

A Washington County General Sessions judge granted an own recognizance bond for a woman accused of hitting a 10-year-old boy who was crossing the road to get onto his school bus early Tuesday morning.

Crystal M. Buchanan, 41, 2089 Ida Sue Drive, Jonesborough, told Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies that she didn’t see the child or the school bus with its flashing lights while it was stopped for the boy to get on the bus, according to court and police documents.

Buchanan was charged with reckless endangerment with serious injury or use of a deadly weapon and illegally passing a school bus.

Deputies said it happened around 6:37 a.m. at 1916 Tenn. Highway 81 S. near Jim Town Road and Baines Lane. Buchanan was traveling south on the highway while the Washington County school bus was headed north. The bus, according to a court document and a crash report, had come to a complete stop and had activated the safety devices to let motorists know it was stopped to pick up riders.

A 10-year-old boy, who was not identified by officials, ran into the road to board the bus, but Buchanan didn’t stop and hit the child, reports said. The boy was thrown several feet into a nearby ditch. He was taken to Johnson City Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

“As for the name of the victim, the incident is still under investigation, and we aren’t releasing his name,” Chief Deputy Leighta Laitinen said.

Buchanan, who cooperated with officers at the scene, immediately reported to the sheriff’s office where she was taken into custody, Laitinen said.

According to court records, Judge Robert Lincoln gave her the $1,000 own recognizance bond. An OR bond means the defendant doesn’t have to post the monetary amount attached to the bond in order to be released.

School officials said the bus driver, identified in the crash report as Mary Williams, followed all protocol and regulations required when stopping to pick up schoolchildren. In addition to Williams, three other drivers were listed as witnesses to the incident.

Washington County Director of Schools Bill Flanary said both the student and the bus driver properly followed safety procedures for boarding a bus. Thankfully, he said, the child was not seriously injured.

Flanary and Special Projects Manager Jarrod Adams said drivers need to be more aware of the presence of children and school buses at all times.

“It’s incumbent on drivers to be aware of school bus safety,” Adams said. “Too often people are in a hurry and go around school buses that are stopped,” to load or unload students.

Buchanan will be arraigned on the charges in General Sessions Court on Wednesday.


Previously reported 11 a.m.

Washington County authorities charged a Jonesborough woman Tuesday morning after deputies said she struck a 10-year-old boy while passing a stopped school bus.

According to information released by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, 41-year-old Crystal Buchanan was charged with felony reckless endangerment and failure to yield to a stopped school bus after police said she hit the boy as he boarded the bus in the 1800 block of State Highway 81 South.

County deputies said the bus was stopped in the road with its stop sign extended and its lights flashing when Buchanan’s Mitsubishi Lancer passed it driving in the opposite direction.

Washington County Director of Schools Dr. Bill Flanary said both the student and the bus driver properly followed safety procedures for boarding a bus. Thankfully, he said, the child was not seriously injured.

“We understand the kid’s fine, not a scratch at all,” he said. “It’s absolutely a miracle.”

Buchanan was booked into the Washington County Detention Center and released after posting a $1,000 bond. She is scheduled for arraignment in General Sessions Court Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.


Previously reported at 8:30 a.m.

A 10-year-old boy crossing Highway 81S was hit by a car while trying to get on his school bus Tuesday morning, according to Washington County Sheriff Chief Deputy Leighta Laitinen.

The bus driver had all of his safety equipment in use when the child was hit, Laitinen said. The driver of the vehicle, a woman, was apparently on her way to work. It happened near Baines Lane, and the boy was alert at the scene, she said.

No names had been released at this time, but Laitinen said the investigation is continuing and “there will be charges.”

Keep checking with www.JohnsonCityPress.com for more information on this developing story.

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