Fractured skulls, broken legs, a ruptured spleen, pierced liver, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills — this is Rodnesha Beverly and Rodney James’ new reality after a truck slammed into the bus stop where James and their children were waiting Sept. 20.
James had just picked up the couple’s three children from overnight daycare. They sat in a row on the bus stop bench next to him: five-year-old Damari, four-year-old Davon and two-year-old Amir.
At about 5:30 a.m. that Friday, two pickup trucks collided at the intersection of Bonanza Road and Lamb Boulevard. The impact sent one of the trucks careening into the bus shelter on Lamb. The three children were in the direct path of the truck, and it drove into them with enough force to crumple the entire shelter.
James couldn’t even find two of his children in the aftermath.
“The second I looked up, (the truck) was already in front of us,” James said Wednesday. He — like many other people in many other scenarios — knew the possibility was there, but never thought it would happen to him.
“I was just screaming and looking for them,” James said of his kids as he remembered that morning. Amir was underneath the crushed bus stop shelter and Damari was trapped inside the wheel well of the truck.
“I was scared to touch him,” he said of Amir. “He was quiet, not crying.”
Friday was a day of celebration for James and Beverly, as the last of the three children was released from a two-week stay at University Medical Center, where all three spent time recovering from critical injuries.
Damari and Davon left UMC in wheelchairs, Davon wears a neck brace and Amir has a prominent scar on his forehead. Additionally, Damari had suffered a liver puncture, Davon had two broken legs and Amir had a ruptured spleen. All three boys had skull fractures and Davon’s required surgery.
Beverly was elated that her children were home from the hospital. The house was too quiet without them, she said, and she couldn’t sleep or stand being there. She spent much of her time at UMC with her children.
It’s all day-by-day recovery now, James said. The children are taking pain medications and need assistance pulling their clothes over bulky casts and braces. Damari has lost time in school. Both parents worry about possible long-term brain trauma to the children, not to mention the emotional toll.
“It crushes my heart,” James said.
It was hard for James ride the bus again, but he didn’t have a choice. It’s their only mode of transportation. He doesn’t use that particular stop anymore, and does everything he can to avoid it.
He stands farther back on the sidewalk now at other bus stops and encourages other parents to keep their children away from the curb.
It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, James and Beverly agreed. They don’t want any other parents to go through it with their kids.
Now that the children are home and starting the recovery process, the issue turns to lawsuits.
Las Vegas police said the accident is still under investigation and they have not yet determined which driver was at fault.
Attorney Matthew Callister, who represents the family, said the main issue is with the Regional Transportation Commission and the enforcement of bus stop regulations.
“We need to foster safety as priority number one,” Callister said. Bus stops are a known problem and there’s a known remedy, but no activity, he said.
Angela Castro, an RTC spokeswoman, says there has been activity.
More than 515 transit stops and shelters have been moved since 2008, according to an independent study commissioned by the RTC. The study suggested all bus stops be moved five feet from the curb for safety, which sometimes falls onto privately-owned land.
The RTC is compiling a list of stops that require the purchase of private property to move them and bring the stops into regulation. Some property owners donate the land, Castro said, but not all of them are as cooperative. The City of Las Vegas has allocated $1 million to help purchase the land for those bus stops, but the money will not be available to the RTC until July 2014.
The bus stop where James and his children were struck that September morning is on that list.
Contact reporter Annalise Porter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0264.