Teen killed at bus stop feared for her safety

10:25 PM, Dec 20, 2009   |    comments
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Pinellas Park, Florida -- The teenager killed as she tried to catch up to her school bus worried about her safety at the bus stop.

"She would say, 'Something is going to happen. Someone is going to get hurt. Someone is going to die,'" recalled the girl's brother, 16-year-old Juan Hernandez-Huapilla.

Pinellas Park Police say 17-year-old Nora Hernandez-Huapilla was hit by a car as she ran across the crosswalk at 66th Street near 70th Avenue early Friday morning.

It was so dark outside and raining, police say, the driver, who had a green light, never saw her.

"I heard the noise and I could see from the corner of my eye what happened and then I turned around and I saw her papers flying everywhere because she had presents to give her friends. She had her Christmas cards. They were everywhere," said Juan Huapilla as he tried to fight back tears.

He says his sister was running a little behind that morning after dropping off their younger sister at daycare, but Friday was a day of school she refused to miss.

"I remember talking to her that night, she was excited to go to school, to see her friends, give them their Christmas cards," he said.

Nora Huapilla never made it to school.  She later died from her injuries at Bayfront Hospital.

While the school district says the bus stop meets safety standards, Nora's friends and their parents disagree.

Read:  Pinellas school bus stop problems continue

"It's too dangerous," said student Heather Dillman.  She was on the bus when her friend was hit.

Dozens of people gathered at the intersection on Sunday afternoon where Nora took her last steps and demanded the school district move the bus stop through their effort.

"Honk for Change."

Nora's friend and classmate, Danielle Kenneally, says she thought of the idea Friday night. 

"We're going to try to get it to where the bus stops are in the neighborhoods instead of major streets," said Keanneally.  She said a petition to the district is coming.

"This needs to change," said Juan Huapilla, as he clutched his sister's picture.

The holiday they looked forward spending together will now be spent saying goodbye.

"She was a great person.  She wouldn't only care about herself, she would care for her friends, her family.  She was a great person," said Juan Huapilla. "She will always be remembered."

The school district is reviewing the case.  Several students complained the bus driver would leave them if they were not at the bus stop in time. 

The district confirmed Hernandez-Huapilla called in a complaint about the driver.  School officials say the driver's supervisor talked to her about the issue.

Laura Kadechka, 10 Connects

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