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Local mom to push for school bus seatbelts in wake of Woodmore tragedy

"Each parents has kind of bonded around another parent," Alexandrya Frazier says. "I hate that it took a tragedy to bring all of the city together, but it made each and every one of us thankful." (Images: MGN / WTVC)

A mother whose child was injured in the deadly November 21st Woodmore Elementary school bus crash says she plans to fight for a change in the law.

Alexandrya Frazier is advocating for seat belts on school buses.

She says her daughter Nae Nae suffered a concussion on both side of her head back on that awful day. She also fractured her wrist.

Frazier believes had her daughter had a seat belt on the bus that day, her injuries would not have been as serious. And she says many paramedics and hospital workers she spoke with right after the crash told her the same thing.

That's why she's headed to Nashville Wednesday, with other Woodmore parents, to urge lawmakers to require seat belts on school buses.

"I was one of those people that was on the other end. Like, I was all for not having a seatbelt on a bus," Frazier tells us. But that was before she drove up to see the bus wreckage on Talley Road back in November.

"I feel like she would've had scrapes and bruises and would've probably hit her head, but her injuries would not have been that serious had she been buckled in," she says.

"Each parents has kind of bonded around another parent," she says. "I hate that it took a tragedy to bring all of the city together, but it made each and every one of us thankful."

Frazier says her daughter is getting close to being back to her normal gregarious self, but says she only rode a school bus recently, in the last two weeks, for a field trip.

The law firm Warren and Griffin says it is joining Frazier in her effort to change state law in Nashville.

On Wednesday, Warren and Griffin will provide a free charter bus for anyone in the community who wants to go to the hearing in Nashville.

The law firm represents several of the families that filed civil lawsuit against bus driver, Johnthony Walker.

"There's no way to turn back the hand of time to prevent this tragedy. It happened. A lot of people were hurt because of it. The important thing is to learn from it, grow from it and create a legacy that it does not happen again," said C. Mark Warren, attorney.

In Nashville, the group will listen to lawmakers in the transportation sub-committee hear the seat belt bill sponsored by Joanne Favors.

The bus will leave from Woodmore Elementary at 9:30 a.m. It will head back to Chattanooga right after the hearing ends.

There are a total of three bills involving school bus safety that Tennessee state lawmakers are considering.

One filed by Rep. Joanne Favors of Hamilton County would raise the age requirement for bus drivers from 21 to 25 years old. That bill is on the House Transportation Subcommittee's agenda for Wednesday. If approved, it will be sent to the full Transportation Committee.

Another one, also filed by Favors, would require any bus purchased by a public school system after July 1st, 2018 to be equipped with a restraint system. It would also require any existing bus in a system be retrofitted with safety restraints by July 1st, 2023.

On Monday, a "fiscal impact" report was released, estimating the possible costs of the bill. You can read it here (PDF file).

The school bus seat belt bill sponsored by Rep. Favors would cost approximately $82 million dollars a year for the next 5 years.

The state would pay $11.7 million dollars a year for 5 years, and local school systems would pay about $70 million dollars a year for 5 years.

This is a developing story. Depend on us to bring you more details as we get them.


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