It's a ritual Lauren Wells and her children complete every day of the school year: she waits for their school bus as it pulls up and greets them with a hug. But on Wednesday, seconds before her daughter stepped off the bus, the routine was broken by a car barreling past on the gravel shoulder.
"It was panic," said Wells.
A video of the incident shared on social media shows Wells walking down the driveway of her home on Manning Road to meet the bus as it slows, but seconds before the doors open, a white car roars by.
Wells is seen sprinting towards the bus as the car roars off.
"He went by so fast and it happened so quickly ... I was shocked," said the mother, adding all she could do was stare at the bus driver in horror. "I looked at her, she looked at me and we were both stunned. My daughter was right there on the stairs, waiting to get off the bus."
Police searching for driver
Provincial police are investigating the incident, but don't have the car's licence plate number, which Const. Jim Root said will make the search difficult. Still, the OPP is determined to locate the driver of the "Chrysler or similar vehicle."
"It's kind of scary to watch and I think everyone who has seen it is wondering what the individual in the white car was thinking," said Root.
"If there was a camera on the bus the guy would have been ticketed and that would have been the end of the story." - Lauren Wells
He added more than 800,000 kids in Ontario are transported by school vehicles every day, and passing a stopped bus with lights flashing carries a heavy penalty.
"For a first offence the fine can be anywhere from $400 to $20,000 dollars," Root said. "That's aside from the danger factor that anyone committing this offence could be jeopardizing the life of a child."
Wells said the incident points to the need for cameras to be installed on school buses. The debate around adding the safety measure has gained momentum in recent months, with local politicians and bus companies calling for legislation enabling them, but the provincial government won't commit without further study.
For Wells, the answer is simple.
"If there was a camera on the bus the guy would have been ticketed and that would have been the end of the story."
The mother said her daughter is dealing with the close call well, but she's still trying to come to grips with the incident that has made her fear for childrens' safety along the busy stretch of road.
"I kind of feel sick to my stomach," she explained. "I'm shocked anyone would think that's acceptable."