A 41-year-old Castalia man is facing multiple charges from the N.C. Highway Patrol after allegedly striking a Red Oak Middle School eighth-grader early Thursday at a bus stop on N.C. 58.
Jesus Ortiz-Licea, 13, was walking to board bus No. 319 at 6:20 a.m. when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Nicolas Benitez, authorities said.
The bus had deployed its stop arm and was displaying flashing lights when Benitez struck Ortiz-Licea at approximately 50 mph, N.C. Highway Patrol authorities said.
“The highway is pretty straight at that point so (Benitez) could have seen the bus stop from a long distance away,” N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper C.J. Scerri said. “It took him a good while to stop after (striking Ortiz-Licea).”
Ortiz-Licea was taken to Nash General Hospital and then transferred to Vidant Health in Greenville, school officials said.
The middle schooler lost some of his front teeth and sustained a broken leg as well as lacerations to his face as a result of the incident, but officials said he will be OK.
N.C. Highway Patrol authorities charged Benitez with driving with a revoked license, passing a stopped school bus and having unsafe tires.
The bus driver was not cited in the incident, school officials said.
Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson visited Ortiz- Licea and his family at the hospital.
“We transport nearly 10,000 students every day, and everyone needs to remember we have to remain alert and vigilant especially during those high-volume times of day when we are moving large numbers of kids,” Jackson said.
Jackson said the district is always grateful when a situation turns out better than officials had anticipated.
“I’m a believer in grace,” Jackson said. “We are going to be praying for (Ortiz-Lisea’s) quick recovery and will be doing everything possible to make sure his road back is as smooth as possible.”
School building staff and bus drivers talk with students and families regularly about safety at the bus stop, Jackson said, but he said he wants students, parents and the community members to remember the importance of safety every day.