KINGS PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Did a driver who hit a child break the law by failing to yield to a stopped school bus? Or was it sun glare that caused the crash?
CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan met 10-year-old Ian Palancia-Mendoza, who clearly remembers what just landed him in the hospital for six days, and prompted emergency leg surgery.
“I hear beeping, and all of a sudden I get hit upward and hit the stop sign,” he said.
He struck the stop sign of his school bus, which was in the middle of picking up children last week when a passing driver failed to react.
The 81-year-old Kings Park neighbor slammed into Ian as he boarded the bus.
“I was in shock,” he said, recalling when he landed in the street. “They put metal rods, they put screws, and a plate on my left side. If I didn’t have any of this in my backpack, I would have had spinal and head injuries and complications.”
“That backpack was kind of a lifesaver.”
His family is irritated that the driver was questioned, but not charged.
“Maybe they feel sorry for him because he’s older,” Ian’s mother Ruth said.
Not so, says Suffolk Assistant Police Commissioner Justin Meyers.
“Oftentimes in an open investigation involving a motor vehicle accident, summonses and charges are not issued until the investigation is completed,” Meyers said in a statement to CBS2.
Ian’s mother wants the driver held accountable and is astonished there has been no apology.
“If he doesn’t apologize, I don’t know if he will feel peaceful with himself,” she said.
Ruth works as a senior citizen’s home health aide, and is now pushing for more eye and hearing tests for those behind the wheel.
“Don’t put yourself in danger or someone else,” she said.
Meanwhile, football is out of the question for Ian while physical therapy is in. He says he misses the classroom, math and science, and all his friends.
“I might have to get home schooled the rest of sixth grade,” he said.
The school bus incident remains under investigation with the Suffolk County Police Department, in consultation with the District Attorney’s Office.
The day after Ian was hit, the school community and Kings Park bus drivers changed the pickup and drop off corner on First Avenue to make it safer for all students.