BILLINGS — A Poly Drive Elementary School student was struck by a vehicle while riding his bike to school and hospitalized Tuesday morning; the driver of the vehicle was cited for careless driving.
The third grader was hit in the middle of the intersection of Brentwood Lane and Lyman Avenue, just west of the school.
Neighborhood residents rushed to his aid and say that after about 15 minutes, two fire trucks, an ambulance, and Billings police showed up to help.
“I looked out the window and I could see the little boy laying on the street, and there were several people, 3-4 maybe, around him trying to render aid," says Bob Chester, a retired Marine colonel. "People were on their phones, I assume calling 911.”
Chester was in bed when he heard what he describes as an "extremely loud, metallic bang". When he saw the crowd around the boy, who has not been identified, he decided to bring out his blanket to wrap around the injured 11-year-old.
“One of the things they say is when someone is hurt like that, possibly going into shock, you want to keep them warm," Chester explains. "So I took a blanket out and I covered him up, and I asked some of the people around him if he was conscious, and they said he was awake.”
Chester explains that he was extremely grateful for the response from his neighbors, who all worked together to take care of the child.
Witnesses say multiple children witnessed the accident, and around 40 children use this road every day to walk or bike to school.
Chester says that he has lived on this road for 10 years and has never seen a child hit by a car. Although he does see families walking this road daily.
Many Poly students primarily walk or bike to school, so residents in the area are urging drivers to slow down and be aware.
They say that even though the school zone doesn't extend fully down side streets, it is still important to note they are used as a path to the nearby school.
While the child was taken to the hospital, he is expected to make a full recovery.
School principal Melissa Soucy sent a message to parents informing them of the incident and offered tips on how to be there for other students during this time, like listening and answering questions openly and honestly.
Support counselors were also available at the school for children to speak with if needed.
Chester also wanted to thank neighbors for their help: “The neighbors around, I thought were wonderful, in terms of coming out and assisting," says Chester. "They were all concerned and helpful, and I appreciate that.”
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Read the full letter from the Poly principal below:
Dear Parents and Guardians,
We would like to take this opportunity to inform you that one of our Poly Drive students was involved in an accident on his way to school this morning. The student was taken to the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. We ask you to please keep him and his family in your thoughts while also respecting their privacy at this time.
We want you to be aware that some of our students either witnessed the incident or were made aware of the details by fellow students throughout the school day. We provided factual and brief information to all students regarding the incident and had support counselors available to staff and students throughout the day.
As parents, you may want to talk to your child. Accidents of this nature, especially involving a fellow student, may affect a child in a variety of ways. When reacting to a scary incident such as this, a child may:
* appear not to be affected
* ask lots of questions
* be agitated and angry
* be thinking about it privately
* be frightened
* be sad and withdrawn
Often when we hear of a major accident occurring, our own experiences and feelings surface. These feelings may focus on an accident we have experienced, witnessed, heard about, or experience anxiety about getting hurt in an accident.
We encourage you to listen carefully to your child, answering questions openly and honestly if they occur, possibly over and over again, and letting them know that even adults don’t have all the answers when accidents such as this occur. It is okay for them to express feelings, ranging anywhere from anger to humor. Encourage all healthy communication such as conversations and written or artistic expressions.
During these weeks ahead, confusing feelings may surface periodically. Let your child know it is helpful to discuss their feelings with adults. Watch your child closely to see how they’re dealing with this event. Aggression or withdrawal may indicate they need more help to deal with their big emotions.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call the school at: 281-6217.
Melissa Soucy, Principal