No charges for first driver in crash that killed 11-year-old in east Columbus

ELIZABETH ROBERTSON-RUTLAND / FAMILY PHOTO
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COLUMBUS, Ohio - It has been more than one month since Lizzie Robertson-Rutland was killed while trying to catch her school bus.

On Sept. 18, just before 6:30 a.m., Lizzie was crossing McNaughten Road to get to her bus stop. One vehicle struck her, throwing her into the other lane, where she was run over by another vehicle. The first driver stopped; the second driver did not.

Columbus police are still searching for that second driver.

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"Obviously we still have questions about the crash, and anybody who saw the crash, and obviously anybody who’s involved in the crash, we want to talk to and get as much information as we can," said Sgt. Brooke Wilson with CPD's Accident Investigation Unit.

While questions about that second driver remain unanswered, police do have some conclusions about the first driver.

"We have no criminal wrongdoing or traffic violation wrongdoing on behalf of the first driver, the woman who struck Lizzie on McNaughten Road," Sgt. Wilson said. "She had the right of way, she wasn’t operating recklessly or negligently in any way that we can find, and we have determined that there will be no charges with her."

That does not mean the police investigation is over, however. And the school district is still looking into the crash as well, determining whether any safety changes need to be made to that bus stop.

As of now, nothing has changed. And school officials did not have any new information to offer.

The Columbus City Council did recently approve the purchase of small reflectors. The city spent nearly $9,000 to order 10,000 blue reflectors to place on backpacks or jackets. They have been ordered but have not yet arrived. And there is no set plan yet for how they will be distributed to students.

Meanwhile, the city could decide to make safety changes after discussion by the Fatality Review Board. That group is made up of representatives from CPD, public health, public service, EMS, local hospitals, MORPC and ODOT District 6.

This all comes during National School Bus Safety Week.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these SAFE tips for riding the bus

  • Stay five steps away from the curb.
  • Always wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the bus driver tells you to board.
  • Face forward after finding a seat on the bus.
  • Exit the bus when it stops and look left-right-left for cars before crossing a street.

Lizzie's family has hired attorneys at Walton & Brown LLP to investigate her death. 10TV made repeated calls to the law firm but got no response.

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