DENVER (KDVR) — An 11-year-old-girl who ran for her school bus tripped and was hit and killed by the bus. Now, the girl’s mom said she does not want her death to be in vain. She is asking lawmakers to act on a bill she feels would keep this situation from happening again.
Leandra Backner remembers her daughter Annaliese, affectionately known as Anna, as a smart, energetic 11-year-old who loved learning.
“She wanted to learn about space and part of that reason is the level of infinite you can never stop learning about. It’s something that stretches forever, and I think that’s what really pulled her in, and I think that’s the personality she had overall towards life,” Backner said. “She had a very bright future ahead of her. She was looking forward to building a rocket next school year with, hopefully, COVID restrictions loosening up.”
Sadly, Anna wouldn’t live to see her future play out.
“She tried to catch up with bus. That didn’t work out so well. And the unfortunate piece is that happened only a couple of hundred feet from my back door,” Backner recalled.
Investigators say Anna tripped while running to catch the bus that day, the bus ran over her. Now Leandra is throwing her support behind a bill at the Capitol that would give grant money to school districts for better school bus software and training in hope of preventing more accidents.
“I can’t bring Anna back, but I can make it all not be for nothing and protect other Colorado school children and parents too from having to deal with things like this,” Backner said.
Sen. Don Coram, a Republican who represents counties in the far southwest corner of the state, is sponsoring the measure. The bill was moved to the Appropriations Committee in February, and it has been sitting there ever since.
As senators put the finishing touches on the state budget, Coram is asking his colleagues to set aside $13.5 million to fund the program.
“Do we have to wait for another tragedy before we understand the importance of passing this legislation?” Coram said he asked his colleagues.
“We have a $2 billion reserve fund, you know? We were a 7.5% reserve fund. We’re bumping it to 15%. So my question is: Is student safety really a priority or is it, wow, we have a huge rainy day fund? This is a problem that needs to be solved today, and we have the funding to do it,” Coram said.
Senators were able to secure some funding for the first year of the program through an amendment to the budget. They plan to rename the bill Anna’s Law as they work to get it passed this year.