A 12-year-old Millburn Middle School student was struck by an 18-year-old Livingston driver on Tuesday as she crossed Main Street on her way to school.
The girl, who, according to Millburn Police, was not seriously injured but taken to St. Barnabas to check out some pain, had been walking toward school on Main Street north of Essex Street with two friends at the time of the accident.
According to Lt. Peter Eakley, the friends crossed the street, mid-block, when there was no traffic and made it safely to the other side but the 12-year-old darted into the street from between two parked vehicles, was struck and thrown about three feet.
The accident occurred at 10:28 a.m., when 6th graders were coming to school late because of state testing of 7th and 8th graders, said district spokesman Nancy Dries. At any time of day, students are encouraged to use the bridge to avoid traffic.
After being struck, Eakley said, the girl made her way back to the sidewalk and was treated at the scene. MMS staff took the girl to the hospital when she complained of pain, police said.
Mayor Sandy Haimoff expressed relief that the child was not seriously injured, but also expressed concern that they girls did not cross with the crossing guards.
Superintendent James Crisfield also said he was relieved that the girl, who chose not to cross where she was supposed to, is all right.
"I think we all feel very fortunate," he said, "and relieved that she is OK."
For many parents, safety of children walking to school has become an issue since the district has eliminated courtesy busing for next school year, especially since some children who will now either have to walk or pay for busing live on what have been deemed by the district as hazardous routes with no sidewalks.
Under subscription busing, parents must pay a fee for their children to use the bus, unless they live 2 -1/2 miles away from the high school or two miles away from elementary or middle school, as mandated by the state.
After complaining to the school district with no relief, one parent who has been a vocal opponent sent an email letter to every member of the Township Committee on Thursday, asking how the town is planning to protect the children.
“Given the accident that occurred in town just a few days ago when a Middle
School child was hit by a car on the way to school, I would think the
town will be especially sensitive to these issues,” wrote Carolyn Most. “… the onus is now on the Township to ensure our children’s safety.
“So I must ask,” she wrote. “What is the Township plan for providing safe walking routes
for our children, - especially elementary school children - to get to school when school starts in September?”
Mayor Sandy Haimoff said the Township has met with the district and school board members and until the district has sense of who is going to take the subscription busing and who will opt out, the town will not know how much it will have to do.
“Of course, safety comes first,” she said. “But until we know what we have to deal we have nothing to deal with
School officials have told the township they should know by June 1, how many people will subscribe to the program.
"After that we'll have a sense of who is going to be on the bus and who won't be," Crisfield said. "Then we'll take it from there."