School officials in Whitefish looking to safeguard students after girl hit by car

WHITEFISH - Staff at a Whitefish elementary school are looking at ways to further protect students after a young girl was hit by a car after getting off the school bus.

According to the Olney Bissell School District, the incident happened at 4:45 PM on Tuesday on Highway 93 near the intersection with Graham Lane.

That's where a designated bus stop is located.

Administrator Travis Dahlman says that students were getting off the bus when the six-year-old girl was struck by an oncoming vehicle.

Dahlman says that the driver failed to stop, although the proper bus lights were on and the stop arm sign was activated.

He adds that the girl was transported to a local hospital by ambulance with injuries.

At this time, we don't know the extent of the girl's injuries.

In a statement, Dahlman said, "The Olney Bissell staff met early Wednesday morning, with the support of Whitefish School District administrators and counselors in order to debrief and develop a plan to support our students, staff and families. Olney Bissell School District will continue to make student safety our top priority."

The Montana Highway Patrol said that it's unacceptable to run through a school bus stop sign arm, just as it is run through a regular stop sign.

ABC FOX Montana with an MHP trooper in August, just before the school year began.

School bus stop sign violations are one of the most frequent traffic complaints they receive, according to MHP Sgt. Alex Betz.

But he said the biggest thing to watch out for are the kids trying to get on or off the bus.

"No matter how much we teach our kids to look both ways before crossing the street, when the school bus is coming their focused on the school bus, they're not necessarily focused on the traffic," Sgt. Betz said.

MPH wants remind drivers to slow down and not speed up when you see the flashing lights on the bus.

You should stop about 30-feet from the bus when you see the stop sign arm come out and not proceed until the bus driver has re-tracked the sign.

Failure to do so can result in a $500 fine, if not additional consequences.

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