Va. School Children Face Dangerous Route to School

Some students at Loudoun County's Belmont Ridge Middle School are facing a treacherous commute to get to class -- crossing busy Upper Belmont Place without a conveniently placed crosswalk.

Last week, two girls were hit by a school bus while crossing outside the crosswalk. The mother of one of those children, Amy Gooen, is asking the school district to do more to protect the county's students.

"[That day], I was expecting it to be my daughter telling me she got to school and it was someone telling me my daughter had been hit by a bus," Gooen said.

The accident happened in front of Belmont Ridge Middle School. Gooen admits her daughter and a friend were not walking in a designated crosswalk, but mentions the safest alternative route forces the students to walk up a busy street in order to cross legally.

That crosswalk is half a mile out of the way.

"She's a straight 'A' honor student; she certainly knows how to cross a street," Gooen said of her daughter. "The truth is there are two entrances to Belmont Ridge school and neither one of them have a crosswalk."

Thursday morning, News4's Northern Virginia Bureau witnessed more than a dozen children arriving in the morning and crossing the street outside the designated crosswalk.

Loudoun County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Ned Waterhouse reacted to the video News4 captured.

"That large group of students crossing over today really surprised us," Waterhouse said. "We acknowledge that we need to do something as a community to overcome this."

But the immediate plan doesn't include crosswalks or crossing guards.

Instead, the school systems plan to put a chain link fence all along the road and add additional bus routes. He says those changes will be put in place before Oct. 1.

Meantime Amy Gooen, is hopeful the changes will keep the community safe.

"I just don't think that anybody else's child should have to get hit by a vehicle before we do something," Gooen said.

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