An Oct. 30 incident in Rochester, Ind., involving the driver of a pickup truck who allegedly struck and killed three children is one of a few in the past two weeks to bring the matter of child safety at school bus stops to the forefront of the national consciousness. 

Nine-year-old Alivia Stahl and her six-year-old twin brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle were crossing the street early that Tuesday morning to board their school bus when they were struck and killed by the pickup truck.

A fourth child, an 11-year-old boy, suffered broken bones and was airlifted to a hospital where he has undergone multiple surgeries. 

The driver of the pickup was arrested and charged with three counts of reckless homicide and one count of passing a school bus when its arm signal device is extended, causing bodily injury.

That tragedy in Indiana is something Kim Hazelett, terminal manager for Woodruff’s Lakeland Bus Service, doesn’t ever want to see happen in the Lakeland area. 



‘It’s alarming to me’

Hazelett said since that incident on Oct. 30 in Indiana, instances of drivers doing the same thing here in the Minocqua and Lakeland area has increased. 

She said it’s actually something that happens all the time. 

“It’s always an issue,” Hazelett said. “I don’t know if we’re more aware because of what happened but we had two incidents Friday (Nov. 2) and three yesterday (Nov. 5).” 

Minocqua police lieutenant Jason Benbenek said a sixth instance was observed by Minocqua police officer Ben Burrows on Tuesday. 

The driver was pulled over by Burrows and issued a ticket, an offense that will cost that driver over $300. 

“It’s alarming to me,” Hazelett said. “In the 19 years I’ve been here, I don’t know of any time we’ve had two incidents on a Friday and three the following Monday.”

She said two of her drivers who’ve seen it happen seem to believe “it’s the younger crowd” but she also knows it could be anyone who’s driving a motor vehicle.

“People have cell phones (while driving) and that type of thing,” Hazelett said. “They’re  not paying attention.” 

When a bus driver is able to get the license plate number of someone who passed a stopped school bus, an illegal passing form is filled out and the information sent to law enforcement. 

“Then they can cite those people,” Hazelett said. 

Aiding the bus driver and in turn, law enforcement personnel, is a camera she said each of the school buses in the company’s fleet are equipped with. 

It was the footage from one of those cameras that helped lead Minocqua police to the driver of a vehicle in one of the Nov. 5 incidents that occurred on U.S. Highway 51 near the Marthaler car dealership. 

Hazelett said sometimes, the cameras don’t always get the license plate because of speed or weather conditions.

“We did get that particular incident and we sent it over to the police,” she said. “I don’t want any kids from our area becoming any part of these statistics.”

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at bjopek@lakelandtimes.com.