Don't pass stopped school buses, family warns years after truck slammed into 8-year-old

ROSEBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- With children returning to class in the coming weeks, that means drivers need to be on high alert for school buses.

It's been more than a year since central North Carolina roads were littered during the morning and afternoon with school buses, and it's a reminder for the Jernigan family of what can go wrong.

Five years ago, Jeannie Sue Jernigan was getting off her school bus when a black pickup truck crashed into her. She was just 8 years old at the time.

"'Jeannie Sue's been ran over.' That was horrible--the most horrible words I've had to ever read on a text," Jeannie Sue's mom Susan said.

The truck hit Jeannie Sue when it illegally passed her stopped school bus. It flung her into the air and sent her skidding down the road.

Jeannie Sue broke her femur, had internal bruising and was forced to undergo multiple surgeries. Five years later and she's still recovering physically and mentally.

"One glance at a text on your phone or whatever kind of distraction you may have while riding down the highway could have a very heavy price," Susan said.

Passing a stopped school bus is a felony in North Carolina.

The only time you can legally pass a stopped school bus is when there is a paved median or physical barrier between you and the school bus. So if you're on a divided highway going the opposite direction of the school bus.

"Those bus drivers have a lot of precious cargo in those vehicles and everyone needs to picture it as their own child," Susan said.
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