Father of boy, 9, fatally hit by school bus sues Grand Ledge Public Schools

Lawsuit seeks damages from school district, bus driver in 9-year-old boy’s 2021 death


GRAND LEDGE, Mich. – A father is suing Grand Ledge Public Schools nearly one year after his 9-year-old son was fatally struck by a school bus while crossing the street on his way home from school.

Eric Williams, of Eaton County, on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against GLPS in connection with the death of his son Malachi Williams, 9, outside of Beagle Elementary School.

According to the filing, On May 17, 2021, Malachi Williams began riding his bike home from school after students had been let out for the day. The Williams family reportedly lives close to the school.

The 9-year-old boy was riding on the sidewalk along Comet Lane near the school, and then turned to use the crosswalk to cross the road at Jenne Street, the filing reads.

A GLPS school bus was stopped at the stop sign on Comet Lane and preparing to turn right onto Jenne Street when the boy entered the crosswalk. The lawsuit claims that the bus driver was looking to the left when they began to accelerate into their right turn, and did not see Malachi Williams in the crosswalk.

The 9-year-old boy was reportedly struck by the bus at about 3:17 p.m. and was completely in the crosswalk when he was hit. The lawsuit states that Malachi Williams was struck by the front end of the school bus, then run over by the front right tires and the rear tandem tires of the bus. He apparently suffered a list of serious injuries from the crash, including blunt force head and neck injuries, blunt force injuries to the torso and blunt force injuries to his extremities.

The lawsuit claims that Eric Williams was immediately notified of the crash and ran over to the scene. First responders arrived and the boy was taken to the hospital, where he was ultimately declared dead at 3:58 p.m., officials said.

In the lawsuit, which is filed against GLPS and the bus driver in question, argues that the defendants “owed a duty to Malachi Williams, other schoolchildren, their parents, and the general public to operate their school bus in a reasonable, proper, and safe manner,” and that they failed to do so on May 17, 2021.

Eric Williams is claiming that the defendants were negligent, and is seeking damages for the “pain and suffering Malachi Williams experienced as a result of his injuries prior to his death; reasonable funeral and burial expenses, and losses suffered by Malachi Williams’ surviving family members as a result of his death, including, but not limited to, loss of love, society, affection, companionship, and other miscellaneous losses,” the complaint reads.

The 9-year-old boy reportedly had two siblings, an older brother and sister. The lawsuit filed Wednesday states that the boy’s older brother was standing outside of Neff Elementary School when the fatal crash occurred, and witnessed the whole thing.

The family’s attorney said Wednesday that they made several attempts to resolve the issue directly with the school district, beginning in June 2021. Kallman Legal Group says the school district did not make any offers to resolve the situation.

“My family wakes up every day with the pain that my son Malachi was taken from us. It is clear from the GLPS Board’s silence that they are unwilling to take responsibility for our son’s death,” Eric Williams said. “We filed this lawsuit to ensure that the school is held accountable and to force the school to make changes to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”

Grand Ledge Public Schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

You can read the entire complaint filed Wednesday below.

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Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.