The guardian of a child struck by a car in front of St. Helena Elementary while students were being dropped off for school is suing the driver of the vehicle, Beaufort County court records show.
The child, identified in the suit as a girl with the pseudonym “A.T. Minor,” was hit by a car about 7:30 a.m. March 3 in the parking lot of the St. Helena Island school, according to documents. The age of the child was not provided in court records or a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report, except that she was younger than 14.
The suit, filed Oct. 16 in Beaufort County Circuit Court, alleges that the car hit the child hard enough to send her flying through the air, and claims that the collision caused the child permanent physical harm as well as mental anguish.
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Jim Foster, director of communications for the Beaufort County School District, said the child was hit while walking across the parking lot with an adult. Parents and guardians can drop children off at St. Helena either through a vehicle drop-off line, or by parking and escorting the child into the school, he said.
Neither the lawsuit nor the Sheriff’s Office report mentions that an adult was escorting the child at the time of the collision.
Foster declined to comment on specifics of the suit but said the incident was the first of its kind that he was aware of in his five years with the district. He also said rigorous safety measures are taken by the district.
“We do a lot of planning and monitoring for our morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up,” he said. “We have a protective services officer — the district does. He’s a retired police officer, and he works with each school in the district to design safe processes for dropping off kids in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon.”
“And each school,” Foster continued, “once their process or procedure is set, works with parents at the beginning of the school year to make sure they know what they’re supposed to do.”
Foster said district staff went to St. Helena Elementary following the March 3 collision to review the procedures they had in place. Neither St. Helena Elementary nor the school district is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The suit seeks unspecified damages against the driver of the 1998 Toyota sedan alleged to have hit the child, identified as Beaufort County resident Antoinette Holmes. It accuses Holmes of, among other things, gross negligence and recklessness.
A Sheriff’s Office report said Holmes’ car was traveling at 15 miles per hour at the time of the collision, and lists glare and driving too fast for conditions as contributing factors. It noted that Holmes said she was blinded by sunlight and did not see the child. The report also said the collision could have harmed the child’s arms or legs.
Sheriff’s Office Capt. Bob Bromage confirmed that an ambulance was called to the scene, but said he could not find any records indicating the child was taken to a hospital. Nothing in the incident report indicated a transport.
Named as plaintiffs in the suit are the child and Willie A. Turral, a Beaufort County resident who lives with the child and was appointed the girl’s guardian in this matter.
Patrick Napolski, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, and Holmes both declined to comment when contacted.