Janesville mourning loss of 11-year-old student - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Janesville mourning loss of 11-year-old student

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JANESVILLE (KWWL) -

The community of Janesville is mourning the loss of a 6th grade student, killed Monday in a school bus accident.  11-year-old Justin Bradfield was being let off the bus outside his home in rural Janesville, when he apparently ran back in front of the bus to get something he'd dropped.  The bus driver didn't see Bradfield and pulled out toward the next stop, running over him.  Bradfield was taken to Waverly Health Center, where he died a few hours later.

It's a tough loss for the small, tight-knit community.  We're told Justin Bradfield was a well-liked student.  The Janesville School District is working to help students and staff cope with the loss, while trying to determine just how the accident that claimed Bradfield's life happened.

Flags are flying at half-staff outside Janesville Schools, while students and staff don blue ribbons.  It's all in honor of 11-year-old Justin Bradfield.

"There are a lot of heavy hearts here today. We are pressing through a difficult day.  But we've been blessed with tremendous support from our community and the surrounding area.  And we'll rally together and support the family, our students and staff, and we'll pull through this," said Steve Gray, Janesville superintendent.

To help them cope, grief counselors will stay on hand at Janesville schools as long as they're needed.  The district says this loss is compounded by the fact that someone who worked as a school aide and bus driver was responsible for the accident that claimed Bradfield's life.

"Our heart goes out to our driver at this point.  And unfortunately, we're not able to comment much until the investigation's complete," Gray said.

So the status of the bus driver's employment isn't known.  But once the investigation wraps, the district will look to see if anything can be done differently in the future to prevent accidents like the one Monday.  But for now, the community's leaning on each other for support, while clinging to memories of a young life cut short.

"He was a student that always had a smile, and he'll be sorely missed," said Gray.

We did talk with Justin Bradfield's father Tuesday.  He says this is an incredibly difficult loss, the result of a horrible accident.  He says Justin loved life and was a great kid.

Memorial services for Justin Bradfield are pending with Kaiser-Corson Funeral Home in Waverly.  A benefit fund has been established at Veridian Credit Union to help Bradfield's family.

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