Just a few months after losing three children in a horrific bus incident, the Ingle family is asking lawmakers to take action.
In October, twins Mason and Xzavier Ingle, 6, and their big sister Alivia Stahl, 9, died while boarding a school bus near their home on State Road 25 in Fulton County. A fourth child suffered serious injuries.
Police said Alyssa Shepherd, 24, ignored the bus’s stop arm and lights and hit the children as they crossed the street. She has been charged with three counts of reckless homicide and a misdemeanor charge for passing a school bus causing injury.
Now the family of the three children who died is hoping to use their heartbreaking experience to prevent future tragedies.
“I think that it would just be just a tragedy if we didn’t take advantage of this terrible opportunity to try to improve it to where no other family went through this,” the children’s grandfather, Michael Schwab, said.
The family is calling for stricter rules at school bus stops and tougher penalties for drivers who ignore the law. Specifically, they want cameras added to all school bus stop arms to catch violators and as deterrents.
The Ingles also want more education on school bus traffic laws during driver’s tests and education. Additionally, they want to change where kids load school buses to help keep them safe.
The family’s call for action has not gone unnoticed. Several Indiana lawmakers, including State Sen. Randy Head, have acknowledged the need for a change and are answering the call to action.
“These are my people. These people live in my district. I’ve met with them. I’ve talked with them,” Head said.
On Monday, Head filed legislation to make changes, partially in the memory of Mason, Xzavier, and Alivia.
The new bill would increase penalties for drivers who don’t stop when a school bus stop arm is extended. It would allow authorities to suspend the person’s driving privileges with the offense.
It also calls for more information on how schools or individuals can petition to reduce speed limits in certain school bus loading areas.
Additionally, the measure would restrict students from having to cross state roads and U.S. highways to load buses, unless there are no other safe alternatives available.
Locally, schools in the Fort Wayne area agree with these proposals.
“Especially when you see a bus, it’s not time to speed up it’s really time to slow down and just take a breath and know it may be a few minutes longer but let’s make sure those kiddos get safely on board.” Chief Communications Officer for NACS, Lizette Downey said.
The Ingle family said they’re happy with the effort. They will join several Indiana lawmakers in Indianapolis Tuesday morning to discuss the bill.
“I will be so happy to make the difference, but inside, you know you’re just so sad that it had to be ours,” the kids’ mom Brittany Ingle said.
The family has asked that the legislation be called “M.A.X. Strong” in honor of Mason, Alivia, and Xzavier.
They have also done extensive research about bus safety and have launched a website with more information. That website is www.maxstrongforever.com
For a reminder about Indiana’s school bus traffic safety laws, click here.
Information from our reporting partners at WTTV-TV, CBS 4.