Family, school district mourn toddler's death

A family and community continue to grieve the death of Arra Preciado. She's the toddler who was killed after a Chapel Hill school bus driver accidentally ran her over Tuesday evening. CBS 19's Amanda Roberson spoke with Arra's family and the school district.

Reminders of little 1- year- old Arra Preciado are all over the family's front yard. After flowers were dropped off by a complete stranger, family and neighbors added candles and pictures to the memorial. Arra's parents tell CBS 19 miss their baby, but they're trying to stay strong for their other three daughters.

With a memorial and extended family nearby, Patricia and Israel Preciado cling tight to memories of their little girl.

"She was very smart, very happy," Patricia Preciado added. "Each morning she'd wake up, no fussing, not cranky, smile, giggle, so that would make my morning."

Tuesday afternoon, when Patricia crossed the street to get her 7-year-old off the school bus, she thought her other daughter and Arra were safe. "I closed the gate and never thought twice my little one would get out."

Patricia said after picking up her seven year old, she heard screams.

DPS said Arra ran out in front of the bus through the family's gate. By the time the driver stopped, witnesses said she'd already knocked Arra over and  crushed her under the rear wheels.

"When I was crossing my landlord neighbor was yelling stop and everything and it never registered with me," Patricia recalled. "When I turned around and my daughter also witnessed everything."

"Personally for myself and for Chapel Hill ISD, the community, our staff, we're just so sorry for what this young family's going through," explained Chapel Hill ISD Superintendent Dr. Donni Cook.

Dr. Cook said extra counselors are on all campuses to help students process what happened. "They're very much in our thoughts and prayers as is the bus driver that was involved in the accident."

PP "I can't say nothing bad about the driver." Patricia said she doesn't blame the bus driver for what happened. "She was probably in pain herself. I mean no one would ever want to be in her shoes or even the parent that lost a child." 

Parents now asking for prayers and understanding, as they try to cope with a death of a child.

"I will never forget her," Patricia added. "She'll always be in our hearts every day for the rest of my life until I meet her. Until that day..."  

As this family copes with the loss of their daughter, DPS is still investigating what happened. So far no charges have been filed against the bus driver.

The bus driver has been placed on paid suspension. From a tragic accident like this one to a minor fender bender, all Chapel Hill ISD employees involved in vehicle accidents must go through drug testing and an investigation. 

The Preciado family said they plan on setting up a memorial fund for Arra.

Below is Chapel Hill ISD's entire statement about Tuesday's accident.

Chapel Hill ISD is saddened by the tragic accident that occured yesterday. There are no words to adequately express our sorrow to the family for their loss and our prayers are with them. Our prayers are also with the bus driver and with our students and staff who know the family or were on the scene. Counselors throughout the district are prepared to provide services to those in need.

I am thankful for the quick response of our transportation department in removing the children that remained on the bus involved to another bus and leave the scene.

All district procedures related to an accident involving transportation have been followed.

The death of little Aria Preciado will make a significant impact on our entire school community. Again, we are praying for the Preciado family and extend our deepest sympathies.

Donni Cook, Ed.D.
Chapel Hill ISD Superintendent



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