WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Authorities said an 8-year-old girl died after being hit by a Derby school bus in the Oaklawn area.

It happened around 7:20 a.m. Wednesday in the 3300 block of E. Locust, which is just west of 47th Street South and Kansas Highway 15.

The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office says the girl, identified as Harmoney Harper of Wichita, went between parked cars and was hit by the bus. First responders tried to save her, but she died at the scene.

Harmoney Harper (Courtesy: Jasper Harper)
Authorities said a child died after being hit by a school bus in the 3300 block of E. Locust on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. (KSN Photo)

“It’s a very tragic incident down here. She was a student, and she was out there today with a brother who was also supposed to be picked up by a bus,” Captain Benjamin Blick, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, said. “It’s just a bad situation.”

He said the two siblings had been waiting for a different bus than the one that hit the girl.

Blick said deputies had to question the children who were on the bus.

“Obviously, we want to speak with them and get them away from the situation as soon as possible,” he said. “We worked with the folks at Derby and the school district to get them out of there as soon as we were done.”

A different bus arrived to take the children.

Blick asked parents to talk to their children about the dangers of traffic, whether they ride the bus or not.

“If you live anywhere in proximity to a roadway, you got to have the conversations with your children about the dangers of the roadway,” he said. “You know that vehicles can’t stop on a dime, so if you’re going to run out in the middle of the road, clearly there’s got to be reaction time of the driver and then the mechanical functions of the vehicle in order to get it stopped, and, like I said, it’s just imperative that you have the discussions with your children.”

On Thursday, the sheriff’s office said no charges are anticipated, and the accident is still under investigation.

Derby Public Schools Superintendent Heather Bohaty released the following statement on the tragic loss of the student.

It is with extreme sadness and a heavy heart that I am sharing with you this morning the death of an elementary student in the Oaklawn area. This student passed away in a tragic bus accident that is under investigation. We are heartbroken by the loss of one of our students. Students and staff will be supported by additional social workers from schools across our district. Due to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the district cannot release the identity of the student, however, we ask that each of you please keep this student and their loved ones in your thoughts during this unimaginable time. 

News of this tragedy may have also reached other students throughout our schools. All children react differently to a loss such as this. Here are some things that may help during this difficult situation.

  • Encourage your child to feel and talk about their emotions. Let them know it is OK to feel sad, angry or confused about what happened, or even to feel nothing at all.
  • Reassure your child that they are safe and secure.
  • Explain truthfully, but gently, what has happened.
  • Offer warmth, affection and your physical presence.
  • Maintain the routine, stability and security in your child’s life as much as possible.
  • Listen. Listen. Listen.

We will provide information that we may receive regarding opportunities to help the family once it becomes available. Derby Public Schools staff are here and ready to help support our students, staff and families cope with this loss.”

Heather Bohaty, superintendent, Derby Public Schools

Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell represents the Oaklawn area. He mentioned it during Wednesday’s County Commission meeting.

“An 8-year-old child was tragically hit by a school bus in my district, in a neighborhood that I grew up in for a short time,” he said. “Please, pray for the bus driver. Please, pray for our EMS paramedics having to deal with that. Pray for the school, teachers, and the other students. I don’t want to see something like this ever happen, and this was a tragic story. It involves, impacts so many people, I have to mention it.”

These incidents are difficult for all the first responders. Blick said the sheriff’s office is organizing its peer support personnel to help staff members.