Reid Stout: inventor of the bus safety mirror

April 24, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's an innovation that is credited with keeping millions of children safe everyday. A local community is getting set to honor the innovator of the school bus safety mirror.

In 1948 in Center Line, Michigan, a little girl was crushed by a school bus. The terrible accident was fresh in the mind of educator Reid Stout as he drove his school bus to drop off students from Bedford Rural Agricultural School.

A little girl named Susan Hetzel got out of the bus and dropped her books in front of the front wheel. Stout couldn't see Susan Hetzel but remembered the death in Center Line.

So, he put the emergency brake on the bus and got out and looked and there was little Suzy Hetzel standing there, picking up her books and things.

It haunted Reid Stout that he could have run over a student. The story goes he couldn't sleep for days and days.

After some trial and error, Stout came up with the idea to mount an arm and a convex mirror to the bus. What he invented gave a bus driver eyes where he never had them before.

It was an innovation and Bedford school busses became the first to use mirrors. Soon districts across Michigan, Ohio and the country clammered to add the mirrors to their busses.

Stout served the district as educator but he served the country through his invention of the convex safety mirror.

Stout died in 1986 but two former students are set to honor stout with the first Bedford history monument. It's because of Jerry Kish and Norbert Able that Stout's story will be remembered.

They think every mom who greets her child after school owes a thank you to Reid Stout and the safety mirror he pioneered.