Janesville student looks to new bus safety system after accident - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Janesville student looks to new bus safety system in wake of tragedy

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Justin Bradfield Justin Bradfield
JANESVILLE (KWWL) -

A Janesville student is trying to make a difference following a tragedy at the district last year. 

It was back on Halloween night, 2011, that 11-year-old Justin Bradfield was struck and killed by his school bus.  And now, one of Bradfield's friends is pushing for a new safety system on board buses that might just prevent similar accidents in the future.

16-year-old Emily Halbach is determined to make a difference.  She's leading the charge to get all Janesville school buses equipped with student detection systems.

Halbach used to ride the bus with Justin Bradfield.  Like many in the Janesville community, she was devastated when the 11-year-old was killed following a bus accident last fall.

"A lot of people here do understand what a good child he was and what kind of person he was.  So, I mean, we're all kind of leaning on each other," Halbach said.

Halbach wanted to do something big to honor Bradfield's memory and make an important change that could potentially help prevent future accidents.  So she began researching bus alarms.

"My dad has had a few company vehicles that have had the reversing systems with the lights and camera that would see if anything is there.  So what I started to do was more research on motion detectors in general, and then to see if there was a system that had that, but hat was all the way around the bus," said Halbach.

The best option Halbach found was the student detection system, which she's now working to raise the $20,000 needed to purchase and install it on all of Janesville's buses.  The system would be equipped with motion sensors that sound off and light up inside the bus if a student gets too close.  While private fundraising will cover most of the cost, the school board has pledged to offer support, too.

"Accidents are called that for a reason,  but to take a proactive approach, to be able to perhaps prevent these types of things in the future, and perhaps just not in Janesville, but other places as well," said Janesville superintendent Steve Gray.

The Janesville School District would like to pilot the new sensors in one bus to start this fall, then expand to its entire fleet shortly thereafter.  And if it proves successful, Emily Halbach plans to lobby lawmakers for making student sensors mandatory on all Iowa school buses. 

Justin Bradfield's parents, Kim and Ryan, are very supportive of the student bus sensor project and have been working with Halbach to raise money.  Donations to the "Smile Big Project" can be made at any Veridian Credit Union location or mailed to the Janesville School office.

Justin Bradfield would have turned 12 years old April 22.

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