A lawsuit filed Monday said the mother of a 3-year-old boy witnessed her son being fatally run over by a school bus in Cary after she had tried to signal the driver to slow down.
The incident happened around 3:40 p.m. on May 16 near the intersection of Cherry Street and Hill Street in Cary.
Cary Deputy Police Chief Scott Naydenoff said at the time that officers responded to a 911 call for a crash involving a child and a school bus.
Emergency personnel arrived on the scene and confirmed a young child, identified as Samuel Huddleston, 3, of Cary, had been struck by a school bus, Naydenoff and the coroner’s office said.
Naydenoff said that the boy was riding on a “ride-on toy” in the street when he was hit.
Huddleston was pronounced deceased at the scene.
There was one student on the school bus in addition to the driver at the time of the incident.
Neither the student on the bus nor the driver was injured during the collision, Naydenoff said.
Police announced in early September they concluded their investigation and that the driver, Koleen Janquart, 61, of Crystal Lake, was cited for failure to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.
The two offenses are considered petty offenses, which means there are no jail or prison sentences.
Court records show the parents of the 3-year-old boy, represented by a Chicago-based law firm, filed a lawsuit on Monday in McHenry County Circuit Court.
The lawsuit names Crystal Lake Community Consolidated School District 47 and Community High School District 155, which operate joint bus services, as defendants.
The suit said Janquart admitted to investigators she had no visual obstructions blocking her view when she was driving the bus. There were also no cars parked on the roadway near the intersection.
The suit said there was no sun glare because the woman was driving in a southeasterly direction on Cherry Street towards Hill Street.
Rachel Huddleston, the boy’s mother, was outside her home on the edge of the driveway near the family’s minivan watching her 3-year-old son, who was in the roadway playing on his red ride-on plastic push scooter near the curb, the lawsuit said.
Rachel Huddleston witnessed the school bus “flying down” Cherry Street to turn left onto Hill Street.
The woman tried to wave off and yell at the bus before the bus struck her child and his toy scooter.
The impact knocked Samuel Huddleston off his scooter and he flew through the air before landing on the roadway.
The bus, without braking, continued and drove over the boy’s body and the rear wheels of the bus drove over his head, causing his death, according to the lawsuit.
During the impact, the sole student on the bus at the time reported hearing Janquart scream expletives.
Janquart told the boy’s mother that her son “ran out in front of me.”
Janquart then told the boy’s father, Brandon Huddleston, that “I’m gonna lose my f–king job over this,” the lawsuit alleged.
The suit said Janquart never called 911 but called her employer.
Police had secured the bus with instruction that no one enter or move the bus.
The lawsuit said Janquart’s supervisor, Teresa A. Peragine, ignored police instruction and entered the bus where she accessed the cabinet housing the onboard video and audio hard drive.
Peragine refused to leave the bus and asked for a police supervisor, the suit said. She eventually complied after being repeatedly asked by police to exit the bus.
It was later found that the bus only had captured video and audio during its morning run and the video and audio from the afternoon was not available.
The suit alleges employees deleted or moved the video and audio from the drive.
The lawsuit is seeking a judgment in excess of $50,000 and requests a jury trial.
An obituary for Huddleston said that he was “precious” and a “little light of sunshine.”
“He had the biggest smile but also the best grumpy face. With four older brothers and a younger sister, he could run and chase the big boys but take time to snuggle with his sister. Although the youngest brother, he was always helping and watching out for them often keeping them out of trouble,” the obituary said.
“He was an outside kid. Sam loved fishing, camping, and Big Foot hunting in the woods. Playing at the park and taking walks with his favorite neighbors were highlights of his day. His cowboy boots were his prized possession, was a big fan of Davey Crocket, Daniel Boone, and Jim Bowie,” his obituary read.