By Jamie Leary
WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4)– A child was struck by a minivan near Skyline Vista Elementary School in Westminster on Wednesday morning and strangers rushed to help him.
The little boy, a preschool student at the school, was in the crosswalk with an adult and other family members when he was struck. The child was trapped under the minivan and dragged for a short distance before the minivan driver realized she had struck a child.
One of the first bystanders to reach the boy was Westminster bus driver, Ted Chavez. He was kneeling next to a police officer on scene. He said he heard the boy screaming and ran to the van.
“I just put my hand on his shoulder and he grabbed my hand and started holding my hand and squeezing my hand so I just held his hand…” said Ted Chavez, a bus driver who stopped to help after the boy was struck.
Chavez stayed with the child while Good Samaritans worked together to lift the car off him with a tire jack.
Bystanders acted quickly, including Aldo Ocegueda. He was driving his son to school when the accident happened. He grabbed a carjack to lift the van.
“The gentleman that brought the jack started jacking it up just enough to where we could pull him out. We didn’t wanna pull him out too far out though. I just wanted him to get his head out from under there. I was worried about any neck injuries,” said Chavez.
Westminster Schools spokesman Steve Saunders told CBS4 that the 4-year-old suffered non-life threatening injuries including some burns from being dragged under the minivan. He was also checked out for a concussion.
Witnesses say the driver was in shock. She said the sun was in her eyes and she didn’t see the child.
Police say the driver of the minivan stayed at the scene while strangers helped to rescue the boy from under the minivan.
For Chavez, it’s personal. Less than a year ago, his step-daughter Jamille, now 8 years old, was struck by a drunk driver and the crash left her paralyzed. He said Jamille was on his mind as he was helping the little boy.
“I didn’t want the same thing happening to this little boy,” said Chavez.
Police say that the driver cooperated with police and that alcohol and drugs are not considered a factor in the accident.
The driver was cited for careless driving resulting in injury and failure to yield to pedestrian in crosswalk.
The news that the boy would be okay was a huge relief to Chavez, but the morning still took a toll on him.
“Came and parked my bus and told them, ‘I’ll be back in a little bit’ and went to our church, the Holy Trinity down the street, went to the adoration chapel and spent a little time talking to Jesus,” said Chavez.
Chavez says he has added the boy to his Christmas list this year and plans to visit him soon.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.