Family sue after soldiers say brothers were hit in cars as they walked to a school bus
MOULTRIE, Ga. (WALB) – A family filed a lawsuit against the Colquitt County School District after Georgia State Patrol soldiers said two brothers were hit by a car while they were walking to board their school bus in October 2018.
In an initial incident report, state soldiers said Noah Palmer, 10, and Dylan Wolfe, who was seven at the time, were crossing that street to board their school bus when they were hit by another car.
This happened in October 2018 on Thigpen Trail in Colquitt County.
âUncle he called and said the kids had just been hit by a car,â said Amanda Wolfe, the boys’ mother, crying. âI just, I lost it. At first, I didn’t believe it.
The soldiers said Noah was killed and Dylan was seriously injured.
âIt’s hard to talk about Noah,â Wolfe said. âIt was an angel that God just gave us. I do not know. It is difficult to explain.”
Wolfe said Dylan lived to tell the story of his brother’s last moments, saying the 10-year-old tried to push his little brother out of the way of the car.
âHe said he just remembered Noah yelling, ‘Dylan, be careful’ and felt him push him,â Wolfe said.
Car driver Monica Cutts pleaded guilty to criminal charges of vehicle homicide and serious vehicle injury in 2019.
She is currently serving five years in prison with a period of probation to follow.
Wolfe family attorney Christopher Rodd said they are now suing Cutts, as well as the Colquitt County School District (CCSD) and the bus driver.
In the lawsuit in Colquitt County Superior Court, the family said they believed negligence on all sides led to the accident.
âIt’s kind of our position that if they hadn’t had to cross the road, that we never would have had this tragedy,â Rodd said.
The Wolves claim the school district failed to provide a safe place for the bus to pick up the boys without them having to cross the street.
Among other allegations, the family said they believe the bus driver, Wallace Bailey, did not pull over in a safe place and report a route or stop that is unsafe for children.
The GSP’s initial incident report indicated that the bus had its warning and stop lights on and its stop signal arm extended when the accident occurred.
The Wolves are seeking damages in the lawsuit, including more than $ 284,000 in medical costs.
However, they also said they wanted changes, not only with the Colquitt County School District, but statewide.
âNo child should have to cross the road to get on the bus,â Wolfe said.
“Every school system in town, every county school system, every private school system that transports kids, let them pick them up from the right side of the street, the right side of the street, so that we can make sure that at least they have the potential for safety at that point, âRodd said. âIt may take a little longer. It may take a few more buses. It may cause us to be a little more embarrassed if we are following a school bus, but what is more precious than two kids trying to get on the school bus to go to school and learn?
In court documents, CCDS lawyers and the bus driver denied any negligence.
They claim that the school district enjoys sovereign immunity, which means there is no legal basis to hold the district accountable.
The school district also claims that the accident occurred due to an unrelated intermediate cause, and they say the plaintiffs and / or their children did not exercise ordinary care for the safety of the children.
Rodd said his clients and the kids did what was expected of them.
âIf they can’t be there because they’re going to work, they leave a responsible adult in charge, which our clients have done,â Rodd said. âThe kids did what the school system told them to do. They were at the school bus. They weren’t playing in the streets. The school bus had stopped and the person ran over them as they tried to get on the school bus.
CCSD lawyers and the bus driver said they didn’t want to talk about the trial while it was pending in court, but sent this statement to WALB:
âIt is a tragic event, including the loss of a young child and injury to another. The school district and Mr. Bailey mourn with the family and send their deepest condolences. The person responsible for this tragedy has pleaded guilty and is serving several years in prison. The school district and Mr. Bailey will continue to defend themselves against the allegations in court and will have no comment on the pending litigation, âsaid Aparesh Paul, lawyer for CCSD.
As for the family, they are still doing well.
His mother said Dylan was nine now.
She said he was physically okay but still struggled to understand what had happened.
âHe healed well. Everything has healed well, but her mental state is not, âshe said. âHe has bad nightmares all the time. He’s having anxiety attacks now.
While the lawsuit won’t bring Noah back, his family have said they hope his legacy will make a difference.
âIf the school system changes, or if it changes in Georgia, we know that not only was his latest Dylan push ruled out, but he pushed the school system to do the right thing,â Rodd said.
The family are asking for a jury trial.
Lawyers for the school district filed a petition, asking the judge to dismiss the claims against the district and most of the claims against the bus driver.
A hearing on this motion is scheduled for Tuesday, April 27 at the Colquitt County Courthouse Annex.
The family also named “John Doe” as the defendant in the case, for the one who designed the school bus routes for the county.
WALB contacted Monica Cutts in prison for a statement but has not received a response. WALB has also requested GSP’s full investigation file for the accident, and we are awaiting those documents.
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