The bus driver, 73-year-old Eddie Farrell of Garland, had been transporting Patterson and her classmates to school that morning. According to an account published on 2/19/10 in the Dallas Morning News, two boys became embroiled in an altercation on the bus. The driver recognized one of the boys as one who had lost his bus privileges due to prior disciplinary issues.
Farrell ordered both boys off the bus. After they exited, Farrell closed the bus doors and resumed the trip. According to eyewitness reports, Patterson suddenly left her seat and ran to the front of the bus, demanding that the driver stop. Before the driver could react, Patterson pushed on the exit door until it opened, causing her to fall out of the moving bus. She was instantly run over and killed.
READ MORE TEXAS AUTO ACCIDENT LEGAL NEWS
School bus exits are designed to be properly secured when the vehicle is motion, but they are also designed to open in an emergency. That said, the doors do not open easily. A spokesperson with Dallas County Schools indicated that when the door is fully closed a metal guard on the handle must be moved in order for the door to be open.
It is not known if the metal guard was in place after the two boys exited the bus a few moments before. It is also not known if the Patterson had used the handle and had disarmed the guard before the door opened. An investigation will determine if the guard was working properly at the time of the tragic accident.