Exclusive: Mother of boy struck by school bus doesn't blame driver

By Stephanie Claytor

Published 05/16 2014 11:42PM

Updated 05/17 2014 12:03AM

The community is gathering to support a North Shreveport family, after Brenden Houston, 6, dies after being struck by a school bus. 

The accident happened around 4 p.m. Thursday at the corner of Winter Garden Drive and Addison Street in North Shreveport, just after Brenden exited the school bus. 

His mother, Jennifer Houston, believes her son had tied his shoes together while he was on the bus to show kids he could tie his shoes, and then possibly hopped off the bus. She said his older brother was riding the bus with him, but isn't sure how much he witnessed. 

By the time Brenden was off the bus and walked to the front of it, she believes his shoes were untied, and he reached down to tie them. That's when she believes the bus hit him. 

"He wasn't paying attention because he was in his own world. That's how he lived. He didn't cause it, the bus driver didn't cause it, all the things surrounding it didn't cause it," said Houston. "It happened, it was an accident, and we'll never get him back, but he'll be in our hearts forever." 

Houston said her son had an infectious smile, that's left a mark on his teachers and classmates at Herndon Magnet School. He was a straight A student who loved playing soccer, and singing with the church choir at Trinity Heights Baptist Church where his grandfather is pastor. 

His mother said her son's principal and about 20 of his teachers were at the hospital, praying for his recovery the night of the accident. Unfortunately, he passed soon after. 

"In this day and age, to see that many people praying in a school district is rare, but that's what that school is…rare." 

His classmates spent Friday writing cards and letters to the family. Grief counselors were also at the school to help students and staff cope with the tragedy. Three of his siblings go to school.

Houston said she can't blame the bus driver for what happened. She said usually, her son's older sister and twin sister are on the bus with him, to watch over him. On Thursday, they wern't there. Also, she contemplated waiting for him to get off the bus at the bus stop minutes before the bus came, but decided to go to the house instead. 

"I've seen a lot of people posting things, why wasn't she paying attention, why wasn't she looking. There's so many scenarios that went into yesterday…him having laced shoes instead of his usual velcro," said Houston. 

"People just need to understand, things line up like that sometimes and there's nothing we can do about it. It doesn't make it hurt any less. But blaming somebody that's in as much pain as we are... two people are victims here; she was one of them. She's a grandmother and she loves those kids. Brenden was one of her favorites; he sat behind her everyday." 

Bus driver Debra Kay Stevens, 59, of Hosston Louisiana has been placed on administrative leave while the investigation continues. Houston said Stevens was in the hospital overnight after the accident due to stress and shock. 

Shreveport Police believe Brenden was struck when the bus was turning on Winter Garden Drive from Addison street. Investigators say Houston may have veered out of sight of Stevens, and was thought to be clear of the bus prior to Stevens driving away. Authorities are reviewing the surveillance video taken from the bus to figure out what led up to this tragic event. 

Brenden leaves behind seven siblings. A memorial service will be held Monday at 4 p.m. at Trinity Heights Baptist Church in North Shreveport. The school has set up an account at Capital One Bank for anyone to donate to in order to help the family pay for the funeral. 

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