Vigil held for 6-year-old hit, killed by school bus in Jefferson County


JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. — Dozens of people attended a prayer vigil Wednesday night to remember a 6-year-old boy who died after being struck by a school bus in Jefferson County, Missouri.

Chad Smith, the pastor of Cross Point Church in Festus, organized the vigil outside Plattin Primary School, where the first-grader attended.

“We need God more than ever in this situation,” Smith said during the vigil. “You never expect this to hit home in your community.” 

The Missouri Highway Patrol said the boy walked in front of the bus after being dropped off Tuesday afternoon near Oakland Hill Drive and Oakland Manor, about six miles south of Festus. He was hit and killed when the 61-year-old driver accelerated.

Hours before the crash, Plattin Primary School held holiday parties for the students, who sang Christmas carols. It was the last day before their winter break started.

 “Pray for this family, for our first responders, for our teachers, for this bus driver, and his family,” Smith said. 

Young classmates honored the life taken too soon. Some of the first responders who were on Tuesday’s scene also attended the prayer vigil. One firefighter laid down his helmet, among the teddy bears, flowers, and candles, to pay tribute to the child they tried to save. 

The deadly crash happened just four days before Christmas. 

 “I don’t even want to think about having to remove the Christmas presents underneath my tree for my child,” Smith said through his tears. 

The funeral had a backdrop of an American Flag. Smith said the red, white, and blue represents unity. 

“This is about this family, about the kids that witnessed something that lived with them forever,” he said. “We’re not just praying for the family, we’re praying for the community because it affects all.”

Melissa Clatto brought her first-grade son to the prayer vigil. She said the victim was her son Hayden’s best friend. 

“He was his best buddy in kindergarten and first grade,” Clatto said. “I don’t even know if it will really hit him until he gets back to school and sees an empty desk and his friend isn’t there.”  

The Jefferson R-VII School District offered grief counseling to students and staff Wednesday mornings. Counselors will also be available when classes resume in January.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is still investigating the crash.

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