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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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Wednesday morning, 11-year-old Eisenhower Middle School sixth grader Austin Takacs died after being struck by an Oregon City School bus driven by 68-year-old Rita Grivanos of Oregon.

The crash happened at 7:15 a.m. on Warner Way near Cardinal Bay, a subdivision off Pickle Road, said a statement from Oregon Police Lieutenant Hank Everitt written to dispatch and road sergeants.
Witnesses reported Takacs was late getting to the bus stop and was running alongside the bus trying to catch up to it as the bus was slowly pulling away. The statement said the "11-year-old apparently tripped on the book bag he was carrying and landed on the street where he was subsequently struck by the passenger side rear tires of the bus."

The bus driver as well as responding officers and paramedics attempted CPR, but were unable to revive Takacs, who was critically injured. He was transported to St. Charles Hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

"The family has our deepest regrets and sympathy," Oregon Schools Superintendent Mike Zalar said. "This is truly a tragic situation. One that we are all at a loss to understand."

According to the lieutenant's statement, there were several students on the bus at the time of the crash.

"Many of the parents of those students took custody of their children directly at the bus site," Zalar said.

Zalar said he received the phone call informing him immediately after the accident occurred. He told media at a press conference that when the police department concludes their investigation "a full and thorough report of the incident will be released."

Zalar said the bus driver was receiving medical attention at St. Charles Hospital. He explained at a press conference later Wednesday morning that Grivanos had helped in trying to revive Austin, but later she became emotionally ill.

"When I left the hospital, the bus driver was in stable condition and was conversing fluently with me and others," Zalar said.

No citations were issued and the crash remains under investigation by the Oregon City Police Department. Zalar said standard protocols were taken after the accident, including drug testing and other standard testing methods.
The superintendent said that Austin's parents and siblings were "devastated" after hearing the news.

"At this time, our thoughts and prayers go out to Austin and his family," a statement from Zalar said. "Our school and community are grieving the loss of one of our students. Austin was loved by his family, his teachers and his fellow classmates."

Zalar said Takacs was enrolled in a program for talented and gifted students, adding that Oregon City recreation director Joe Wasserman remembers Takacs being involved in youth baseball at the little league diamonds. Jerusalem Township trustee Joe Kiss remembers Takacs for playing youth football, also.

Mayor Marge Brown, who called Austin "a good athlete," said a plaque is already being planned in Austin's honor for one of the benches at the back of the William P. Coontz Recreation Complex.

"Austin was a great kid," Zalar said.

School remained in session Wednesday, but Zalar said grief counselors have been made available to staff and students primarily at Eisenhower and "will continue to be made available throughout the coming days and weeks."

"Letters will be sent home today informing the students in the community of the general parameters of the incident," Zalar said. "Counseling will be available to the rest of the transportation department. In addition, we will have staff and administrators riding the buses home today along with the bus drivers to show support for those students and drivers."

Oregon City Administrator Ken Filipiak said, "The city applauds the courageous efforts of our service providers, our police, our paramedics, our firemen. All of them tried their best to revive the child. Keep them in your prayers as well, because it's been a trauma to them. They are receiving some care; some counseling at this time, but this is very difficult. Its part of their job and the community appreciates their efforts and we just want the community to keep them in their prayers as well. It's got to be a shock to them."

Mayor Brown attended the press conference, speaking to media, "I think it's time to sit back and think of the family. Think what it would be like for you to get a call or be there when your child gets killed. Think about that before you delve yourself into their relationship. They need time. The bus driver needs time. They all need time to heal."

Mayor Brown added that she told Austin's family that the city may be willing to pick up the cost of the burial for the family if there is no insurance.

"Many of you have children," the mayor said. "I can't imagine this kind of thing happening to my children or my grandchildren. That's a call that you never expect to have in the morning — ‘Mayor, we have another tragedy.’"
The accident was the second in a week involving an Oregon school bus that led to a fatality. The previous Friday, a collision between a bus and an automobile led to the death of an adult driving the automobile.

"I believe we have two freakish accidents that just occurred in close proximity to each other," Zalar said. "In terms of our standard operating procedures, we'll continue conducting business as usual, certainly with safety being first and foremost in our thoughts."