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Hawkins Co. man charged after running bus stop sign, nearly running over children

“This was almost a horrible tragedy,” Hammonds said. “The first child barely cleared the front bumper, and the other was still standing in the doorway. Luckily, the second child stopped.”
Updated: May. 22, 2021 at 4:42 PM EDT
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SURGOINSVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A Surgoinsville man is accused of running a school bus stop and nearly running over children exiting a bus March 4, The Times News reported.

Times News reported 47-year-old Mark Anthony Richards is facing charges after police said he drove a loaded dump truck past a school bus with flashing lights and a stop sign extended as one small child exited the bus in the 3300 block of Highway 11-W in Surgoinsville.

Surgoinsville Police Chief James Hammonds told the Times News after the bus dropped off several children at a daycare on Highway 11-W, the bus proceeded to travel about 60 yards up the highway and stopped again to drop off two more children. Police said surveillance video shows Richards “suddenly drove through the emergency lane, just barely missing the first child.”

Chief Hammonds told the Times News a second child was stepping off the bus when the dump truck loaded with eight tons of gravel zipped by.

When interviewed by police on March 11, Richards told Hammonds “the bus stopped suddenly, and he swerved to avoid hitting the rear of the bus, but he couldn’t get stopped in time before reaching the door unloading area,” Hammonds said. “He says there was a car on the left side preventing him from swerving that direction, but in the video I can’t see a car on the left side.”

Hammonds said Richards’ statement didn’t match what he saw on the video.

“This was almost a horrible tragedy,” Hammonds said. “The first child barely cleared the front bumper, and the other was still standing in the doorway. Luckily, the second child stopped.”

Richards was charged with two counts of felony reckless endangerment, failure to maintain due care, and passing a school bus while discharging passengers. He was released from the Hawkins County Jail on bond and is scheduled for arraignment Monday.

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