JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) – It’s been a week since Damon Rice, 6, was hit and killed by a school bus near Festus in Jefferson County.
On December 21, Damon got off the school bus. He crossed the street in front of the bus, and was then hit by the bus. State soldiers are still investigating the incident while family, friends and an entire community mourn. For the first time since the crash, we hear from Damon’s father and 7-year-old best friend, Levi Johnson.
The Festus community came together Wednesday night to remember a young boy killed in a tragic bus accident.
“I didn’t know another boy was loved by so many people, and it only took 10 minutes to fall in love with him,” said Joseph Rice.
Rice, Damon’s father, said that’s how people describe his son. Rice said he lights up every room he walks into and makes friends with anyone.
“I had to put him on the school bus every morning, every morning. It was the same routine. We would sit in the car and talk, chat about what he was going to do for the day, talk to him. He would tell me he loved me, and he would go and get on the school bus,” Rice explained.
The morning of December 21 was the last time Rice shared that special memory with her son. Those were moments now gone for the Rice family and one of Damon’s closest friends.
“Whenever we moved on that road, he was right across the sidewalk,” Levi Johnson said.
Johnson met Damon Rice when they were 2 years old. They were neighbors and have been inseparable ever since.
“We played games like tag and hide-and-seek. We mostly played hide and seek because he definitely liked that,” Johnson said.
Johnson said this week has been a nightmare for him. However, the 7-year-old is turning grief into something much bigger than anyone could have imagined. Johnson wants to create better school bus safety legislation.
“It was the best day of my life, aside from my kids being born, that little boy came out and said, ‘Hey hey, I think there needs to be a law,'” Rice said.
Johnson said he wants a law passed that requires school buses to have cameras on the front and back. Right now in Missouri, it’s not required.
“Whenever that stop sign goes out, there is a display, and then you can see the front and back of the bus,” explains Johnson.
Four days ago, Johnson and his mother created a Recommendations Change.org for this new law. It already has thousands of signatures. Johnson says he’s doing this so it doesn’t happen to any other kids.
“I just really want them to know what a great person he is,” Johnson said.
While Johnson and the Rice family fight to protect future children, they also keep Damon’s memory alive.
“It’s the worst thing in the world for my son to have such an impact, he has to continue. Because without that he would have had the same impact.”
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