A judge set a $10,000 bond Friday afternoon for the Chester driver police say hit a child and her mother as they crossed a street Thursday afternoon, after the child got off a Head Start bus in front of her home.
However, the driver “challenges” the charges, he said in court.
The 5-year-old girl suffered broken bones and will likely be hospitalized in Charlotte for a couple of days, said Walter Kellogg, executive director of Carolinas Community Actions which administers the Head Start program the child attends. The mother, identified by S.C. Highway Patrol troopers as Ashley Caldwell, was treated for her injuries and later released, Kellogg said.
Danny Dove, 53, of Chester was charged late Thursday with failure to stop when meeting or passing a school bus resulting in great bodily injury and was jailed until a court hearing Friday afternoon. Dove, who faces up to a year in prison on the felony if convicted, was not injured. Caldwell and her daughter were airlifted to a Charlotte hospital.
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The incident Thursday on Pinckney Street — a half-mile west of the Chester city limits – happened in front of Caldwell’s home. State troopers said Dove disregarded the flashing lights and stop arm of the school bus that had stopped to drop off the child around 1:50 p.m.
In court Friday, Dove said when gesturing at troopers, “I talked to two others more than two hours,” after the incident and then told Chester County Chief Magistrate Yale Zamore he “respectfully challenges all of this.” Dove did not address the charges further except to say that he knew that Friday was a bond hearing.
Highway Patrol Lt. Jeff Wade in court said the mother and child sustained “serious injuries” but not life-threatening, and he asked Zamore to set the maximum bond possible.
Zamore told the troopers that he could not set a bond higher than $10,000 because the charge only carries up to one year in prison if convicted, but did take into consideration that two people were injured seriously – including a minor.
Dove has a criminal record that includes driving convictions, according to State Law Enforcement Division records obtained by The Herald.
In November, Dove was convicted of assault and battery and fined $1,093, records show, but served no jail time. Before that, Dove was convicted in 2011 of driving with a suspended license and fined $652.50. In 2006 Dove was convicted of speeding, driving without a license or registration, and driving an uninsured vehicle and was fined $680, records show.
Head Start officials said the bus, and the mother and child, were not at fault. All Head Start children who take the bus home are either met by a guardian at the bus or walked to their home by a Head Start monitor who rides the bus, said Kellogg, the Head Start administrator.
The mother met the bus and took custody of the child from the bus and was walking her across the street when both were struck, Kellogg said.
The bus driver, Kellogg said, also “followed all regular safety protocols” that involve the stop arm and flashing lights that change from yellow to red when the bus slows to stop.
Kellogg said the child is “recovering well” at Carolinas Medical Center, but urged all drivers to follow South Carolina traffic laws that are in place to protect children.
“Please, for the safety of all kids, adhere to traffic laws, particularly when dealing with school-aged children,” Kellogg said.
Thursday’s incident in Chester is the second involving a school bus stop in six months. La’Darious Wylie, 11, was killed in October after police said a hit-and-run driver struck him as he waited for the school bus. La’Darious pushed his younger sister to safety before he was hit.
The suspect in that case has yet to go to trial after being charged with hit and run resulting in death.