It should have been just a routine bus drop-off. Instead, it ended with Brantford, Ont., father Derek Tappen running for his son’s life.
His home surveillance camera footage captured the moment on Nov. 1st in Mount Pleasant, just outside his home. The video shows Tappen approaching the school bus to pick up his two sons returning from school. The video then captures Derek’s older son getting off the bus just fine — but his younger son, five-year-old William, doesn’t quite make it out the door.
“He got both feet onto the ground at which point the bus door shut around him, pinning him half-in, half-out of the bus,” recounted Tappen.
The bus driver took off, dragging William several feet, with Derek and his older son running and screaming behind the bus. The driver — alerted by his screams, Tappen says — eventually stopped.
“Terrified,” said Tappen, when asked what was going through his mind in the moment. “I honestly thought I was going to have to get an ambulance for him and we were going to end up in the hospital because all I could see was him sliding out from the bottom of the door and ending up underneath the wheels.”
Aside from a few scrapes and bruises to his leg, Tappen says his son is physically okay. Emotionally, however, is a different story. Tappen says his son now refuses to ride the bus and he has to drive him to school every day.
“He’s just scared that he’s going to get pinched again and this time he won’t be so lucky,” said Tappen.
Tappen says he thinks simple safety mechanisms built into the doors could’ve made this near-tragedy completely preventable.
“Now they’ve switched over to a push-button system instead of the old-school long bars that they had to physically open and close, so they don’t have to check the door anymore which I think is a big issue with that,” says Tappen.
Global News reached out to the bus company, Voyago, which owns the bus involved in the incident for comment, but did not hear back before broadcast deadline.
“We’ve got sensors for our car doors, for garage doors, elevators, you know — half the stuff you can put your arm underneath and it’ll stop so you don’t get pinched,” said Tappen.
“But why can’t we have something like that on the school bus doors?”