Ellicott students, staff grieve over death of 4th grader

March 4, 2013

Children in Ellicott schools spent at least part of the day Monday talking with counselors after a 10-year-old girl died on a bus Thursday while on her way home from school.

According to Ellicott School District 22 superintendent Patrick Cullen, the girl had an apparent seizure on the bus when it was about four miles from the school.

Joe Torrez, the principal at Ellicott Elementary, said another student saw the fourth-grader having trouble breathing and told the driver.

“As soon as the bus driver was alerted that something was wrong, she stopped the bus, went back and noticed the child was in distress,” Torrez said.

Torrez said the bus was near its next stop, which was close to the 10-year-old girl’s home. The girl’s father rushed to the scene, but he and the driver were unable to revive the fourth-grader, the principal said.

Ellicott schools director of transportation Teresa Burke said emergency crews from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Ellicott Fire Department and American Medical Response rushed to the scene.

Burke said the girl was taken to an area hospital, but did not survive. An autopsy was conducted, but test results have not been completed, the El Paso County Coroner’s Office said Monday.

According to Burke, responders said the bus driver “did everything that we train for – 911, rendering aid and evacuation.”

All 19 Ellicott bus drivers must be certified in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) every two years through the Colorado Department of Education, Burke said. The Ellicott school district also requires the drivers to take a “refresher course” once a year, she said.

Cullen and other Ellicott officials formed a crisis team on Friday and made plans to counsel students on Monday. Ellicott schools are on a four-day week and have Friday’s off.

Counselors from District 22 were joined Monday morning by counselors and school psychologists from the Pikes Peak Board of Cooperative Educational Services and more from El Paso County. Torrez said kids were doing pretty well and the elementary, middle and high schools would “try to return as much as we can to our normal operations” on Tuesday.

“There is a very somber mood,” Torrez said just after noon on Monday. “But we’re doing well. It’s a real strong community and that will help.”

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