CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Mari Whitney said she she can only imagine the pain the family of 8-year-old Layla Aiken is going through. When she found out Aiken was struck and killed while waiting for the school bus she decided to ask people to volunteer to wait with students at bus stops in Cape Coral.
“I’m looking at maybe asking a person to commit one hour once a month for the next three months until school is over,” said Whitney.
She started a Facebook page called “In Memory of Layla.” She said volunteers would have to pass a background check in order to wait with students. Other suggestions from the community have included adding benches like the one left at the site of Aiken’s death this week. Some even wondering if the school district should put them at most, if not all stops.
But Rob Spicker with Lee County Schools said with thousands of bus stops and even more students to keep track of on the buses, there’s only so much they can do about what happens before they board.
“Our responsibility begins when they get on the bus. So we rely on parents to keep them safe until that bus arrives,” said Spicker.
But he also said the district can help if there's concern about the district's designated spot for kids to catch the bus.
“If you feel that the stop that your child is at is not safe, there is a process also on our website to file an appeal to have it reviewed,” he said.
But even that process, just like adding sidewalks and streetlights can take time. That's why Whitney said her plan is so important. She said it’s an army of volunteers that can come together without the wait.
“Right now this is just so we can get something started in a week or two,” she said.
The first meeting for volunteers is Saturday April 6th at 10:30 am at the Remax located at 2326 Del Prado Blvd S. in Cape Coral.