2013-10-10 / Front Page

Putnam Child Hit While Exiting School Bus

By Eric Gross

Putnam Valley Superintendent of Schools Fran Wills called it the “unthinkable” Friday when referring to one of her students—a seven-year old boy—who was struck while exiting a school bus 24 hours earlier only to have the driver flee the scene.

The incident took place at 4 p.m. on Trolley Road when according to New York State Police Major Michael Kopy, the unidentified child who was on his way home following a day of classes at the Putnam Valley Elementary School, exited the bus and was run down by a red Saturn despite the flashing red warning lights being activated on the school vehicle.

Kopy said witnesses provided police with a partial license plate of the fleeing car advising that it took off in a northerly direction.

“Working in conjunction with the New York State Police Intelligence Center in Albany, investigators and uniformed troopers from the Cortlandt barracks determined the correct license plate number and that the 1997 Saturn was registered to a family member of the suspect,” said Kopy.

After contacting the family, Tavares Mustapher, 19, of Peekskill, turned himself into police eight hours after the alleged hit and run and was charged with reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child, passing a stopped school bus, leaving the scene of an accident and other vehicle and traffic law infractions.

Mustapher was arraigned on the charges and was released without bail pending an Oct. 18 hearing in Cortlandt.

Major Kopy said the second grader was taken by ambulance to Hudson Valley Hospital Center where he was treated for injuries to his foot and abrasions to his face and was later released.

Wills, who assumed the chief school administrator’s post in Putnam Valley last summer told the Courier and PCN&R, “My heart was in my mouth when our district received the call reporting that one of our children had been struck by a reckless driver rushing to get somewhere and unthinkingly passing a school bus which is unthinkable. Children are so vulnerable. The horror and terror of the situation for the boy’s parents as well as his extended school family was a nightmare that no one should ever experience. Children are our most precious commodity.”


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