Bill in state capitol to be named ‘Anna’s law’ after girl who was hit by her school bus – CBS Denver

PARACHUTE, Colorado (CBS4)– The parents of an 11-year-old girl from Parachute share their heartbreaking story in hopes of saving the lives of other children. Annaliese Backner was run over and killed by her own school bus earlier this month.

“My baby died that morning…in front of her classmates, maybe not just a few hundred yards from my house,” says Leandra Backner.

Leandra Backner (credit: CBS)

Her daughter’s bus stop is now a memorial and the mother is now on a mission: “Nobody has to go through what me and my husband are going through right now.”

Army veterans, these parents are gathering what they call “Anna’s Army” to help pass Anna’s Law, a bill that makes sweeping changes to school bus safety, including equipping them with technology that allows school districts to track driver behavior and parents to track a bus location.

Backner says her daughter’s bus passed right in front of her, “I hear her school bus pass by my window, every morning…late.”

The technology would also include Bluetooth capability so parents can track not just the bus but also their child, in case he or she gets off at the wrong stop.

“The technology also knows whether children are on the bus or not, whether they’re near the bus,” says Ward Leeber of the Child Safety Network, a national nonprofit that helped draft the bill with help from school districts, drivers and parents across the country.

(credit: Leandra Backner)

Leber says school buses are the largest form of public transportation and yet, he says, the state of Colorado has refused to spend money on school bus safety.

“The state has billions of dollars in budget surpluses, so it’s only about one thing and those are the priorities.”

The bill provides $13.5 million in funding over the next three years to, among other things, recruit, train and pay drivers.

“There is no one more responsible for the safety and protection of these students than school bus drivers, so why would you pay these people just $14 an hour with no benefits?”

The money would also be used to launch a public awareness campaign and purchase satellite technology for buses in areas of Colorado where there is no cell service.

“We tested all of this. We are not guessing if it works or not. It works,” says Leber.

The Child Safety Network funded training for bus drivers across the country, including Homeland Security counterterrorism training. Leber says they also help districts map out safer routes that prevent children from having to cross the street. He says they have reduced accidents by 50% in some districts.

“I want Colorado to have the safest transportation system in the United States. It’s one of the hardest places to go and we’re ready. There is no reason to wait.

And yet the bill failed two years ago, and this year Democratic leaders in the Senate sent it to the so-called Kill Committee where lawmakers cut its funding. The bill’s sponsors, Senators Don Coram and Rachel Zenzinger attempt to recover the money. They also plan to name Bill after Anna.

Her mother can’t help but wonder if her daughter would still be here if the bill had been passed sooner.

“What are you waiting for?” she asked lawmakers. “The worst has happened. The money is there. »

(credit: Child Safety Network)

Backner says her daughter wanted to be an astrophysicist since she was 6 and change a world she saw as full of infinite potential. Now, she says, it’s up to her to make sure her daughter really changes the world before another child like her is killed by a school bus.

“I tried to make all the decisions with Annaliese in mind, what she would want her mum to do. If this is the last breath I take…keep talking about it.