Lawsuit pursued after child was hit while getting off school bus; parents angry driver wasn't arrested

Posted at 7:00 PM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-06 22:14:17-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Parents of a girl who was hit by a car after getting off the school bus, are now pursuing legal action after the driver admitted to being distracted, but was never arrested.

The civil lawsuit aims to hold the driver financially responsible for the injuries Aisha Winfrey’s daughter sustained and she says that’s just the beginning.

She also wants to change what she calls outdated laws that don't do enough to warrant an arrest for circumstances just like this. Winfrey says she hasn’t ruled out pursuing legal action against Metro Nashville Police either.

Winfrey’s daughter doesn’t remember anything about what happened that day and Winfrey tells us, she's not sure if her daughter will ever regain that memory.

What Winfrey remembers is hearing a voice call out to her after hearing a loud boom outside her door on South 5th street. At the time, children were picking up school supplies from the bus.

“He was like Aisha, big baby just got hit. So I just shoot straight out the door to my baby,” Winfrey said.

A woman visiting Winfrey’s neighbor caught the aftermath on video. It shows a black SUV parked just down the road from where EMTs were tending to the 11-year-old.

The girl’s father told Metro Nashville Police he saw the car maneuver around the bus which had its lights and stop sign activated, before hitting the child.

“I was just so scared because she kept closing her eyes. I didn’t know what was happening,” Winfrey said.

The child was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital and to the surprise of the family and neighbors watching, the driver of the SUV was given the all clear to drive away.

In the crash report by Metro Nashville Police, officers say the driver admitted to being distracted by her GPS, but nothing more. She was cited for two moving violations, "passing bus with lights activated" and failure to "exercise due care."

Officers did not think a sobriety test was necessary and for Winfrey, it’s one of many signs of a double standard she can’t ignore.

“I feel like had it been me hitting a white child, I would’ve been arrested immediately,” Winfrey said.

Metro Nashville Police officials say that while they sympathize with Winfrey, they were simply enforcing the law as it’s written. Vehicular assault involves a driver being impaired and homicide involves death. But at that point, the child was in the ambulance and hadn't even reached the hospital.

“They didn’t know if she was going to be okay. If she was going to have to have brain surgery. If she was going to have to be hospitalized and they let this lady drive off,” Winfrey explained.

Winfrey’s daughter is recovering with minor injuries and a concussion. She says her daughter's memory isn’t what it used to be, with things like addresses and phone numbers now much harder to retain.

NewsChannel 5 contacted the Davidson County District Attorney’s office but they haven’t said if they will pursue more charges against the driver.