WILLOWICK, Ohio – The mother of one of the children hit by a driver illegally passing a stopped school bus calls surveillance video showing the moments leading up to the incident “gut-wrenching.”
The hit-and-run happened Monday afternoon on E. 300th Street.
The video, recorded by cameras inside the Willougby-Eastlake school bus, shows a red car passing the stopped bus as the bus driver honks the horn and yells “no, no, no” at the passing driver.
It shows the car then stopping for a moment after hitting the children before quickly accelerating away from the scene.
The two victims were hospitalized but not seriously injured.
“Anyone in their right mind would have stopped and she did not just because she was scared for herself,” said Dawn Shandle, the mother of 7-year-old victim Mason Messner. “Those two kids could have been laying there dead.”
Police said the hit-and-run driver, 18-year-old Daila La’Shay Wilson, of Euclid, then drove to her valet job at the Cleveland Clinic.
She was charged Wednesday in Willoughby Municipal Court with misdemeanor charges of failing to stop after an accident, driving left of center, passing a stopped school bus and reckless operation. She is scheduled to appear in court May 30.
Police said she did not have car insurance.
A Cleveland Clinic spokesperson said Wilson is not a hospital employee and the Clinic contracts with Towne Park for valet services.
Towne Park said Wilson has been suspended.
“This is a very unfortunate situation, and this employee has been suspended from working with Towne Park pending investigation,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The company noted she was not working on an active shift when the incident occurred and was driving a personal vehicle. The spokesperson said employees are covered under Towne Park’s insurance program when on an active shift.
Under current Ohio law, the felony charge of vehicular assault requires serious physical harm to the victims.
Willowick Police Chief Brian Turner said police consulted with prosecutors about appropriate charges in this case.
“We’re working within the color of the law here,” Turner said. “For all the people who are upset about this, do something productive with that emotion, use this as a springboard to contact your legislators and press for tougher penalties for this offense.”
Senate Bill 134, introduced in the Ohio Legislature last month, would stiffen penalties for school bus passing violations, but it does not change the definition of vehicular assault and would not elevate this case to a felony.
Shandle thanked the community for its support, including dozens of handwritten cards sent to Mason by his classmates.
She said she supports tougher penalties for this crime.
“It’s just a slap on the wrist,” she said. “Just because we’re lucky that we still have our children does not mean [Wilson] should not be disciplined for her actions.”
**Editor’s note: This story was updated on May 16 to reflect a statement from Towne Park**