Name released in fatal Quitman school bus accident - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Name released in fatal Quitman school bus accident

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QUITMAN (KATV) - A woman is dead after driving into a stopped school bus in Quitman. The accident happened at about 7 a.m. Friday on Highway 124 East. A toddler with the driver escaped without injury, along with everyone on the school bus. 

Martha Bearden, 54, of Guy, has been identified as the victim.

A high school student was stepping on the bus when it was hit. 

Disabled veteran, Ben, was looking out the window at home and set off his life alert alarm to get his brother, Roy's attention. (The men do not want their last names released.)

Roy says, "I thought my brother called me because he was injured but he told me there had been a wreck so I got dressed and went outside.

When he opened the front door, he saw a van under a Quitman school bus. A former volunteer firefighter, Roy jumped into action, "I had the bus driver remove the children from the bus over to a safe distance because I smelled smoke and fuel." 

Roy says the driver of the van, Martha Bearden was pushed to the back seat. When he checked for a pulse and saw the condition she was in, he knew she was dead. Then he heard a toddler screaming, hidden behind the victim's seat. "So we got in there and got the seat apart and there was a little baby. She looked to be about two-years old.."

After Roy, neighbors and drivers got the toddler out and removed the glass from her hair, first responders arrived.

A driver behind Bearden told police they were going about 50 miles an hour, 5 miles under the speed limit. The witness does not recall seeing Bearden push her brakes.  

Neighbors say on average, they hear tires screech at 7 a.m., about once a week from drivers surprised by the stopped school bus on a busy highway. 

Roy adds, "At that time, as you are coming down the main road East,  the sun is directly in your eyes. You are totally blind. Same thing, last week a vehicle veered off the road and into my yard to a complete stop. Thank God there was no one in the oncoming lane or it would have been a head on collision. In that case, he swerved and did not hit the bus."  

Roy wants a sign warning drivers that a school bus stops there. "Our prayers go out with the family."

Arkansas State Police are investigating the accident.

The superintendent of the Quitman School District says it is too soon to say if the board will consider making changes to the bus route.

All three students and the bus driver escaped with bruises.