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Bus Driver Who Killed Queens Girl Had Checkered Driving Record

2:10 PM EST on December 5, 2008

jasmine.jpgPhoto: Dima Gavrysh/New York Times

Her name was Jasmine Paragas. According to reports, she was a 14-year-old freshman, an honors student, at Francis Lewis High School in Queens. She came to the US from the Philippines with her parents and younger brother, who is now 10, about six years ago.

Jasmine was afraid of Queens Boulevard, so her mother routinely crossed the street with her in the morning before school. Yesterday, after the two successfully negotiated the "Boulevard of Death," Jasmine's mom left her daughter to catch the Q88 while she made her way to the train for work. Minutes later, at 8:10 a.m., Jasmine was struck by a school bus while crossing 57th Avenue at 90th Street. Suffering severe head wounds, she was taken to Elmhurst Medical Center. Jasmine was pronounced dead at 8:54 a.m.

The driver of the bus was George Severino, 62, of Brooklyn, an employee of the JEA Bus Company. Severino was reportedly driving north on 90th Street when he made a left-hand turn onto 57th Avenue, hitting Jasmine, who was in the crosswalk. According to the Daily News, "Severino said he heard a thump, checked the rearview mirror and saw the girl lying in the street."

Checking a map of the intersection, 90th Street is one-way northbound at 57th Avenue. So Severino need not have been looking for oncoming traffic when he made the turn. If he had the signal, presumably so did Jasmine, as there don't appear to be any "push to cross" buttons. This version seems to jibe with police findings, as Severino was issued a summons for failure to yield to a pedestrian. Apparently, he just didn't notice Jasmine in his path until he "heard a thump."

jasmine2.jpgPhoto: Dima Gavrysh/New York Times

Again, the Daily News:

According to motor vehicle records, Severino was in an accident where someone was injured in Brooklyn in January 2006 and was convicted of changing lanes unsafely in June 2007.

Despite his previous record, since he was not intoxicated and stayed at the scene, at this point Severino faces no criminal charges. It's likely, in this case at least, that he never will.

Severino was reported to be weeping at the scene. His sorrow won't bring Jasmine Paragas back. But for police, prosecutors and lawmakers, it will almost certainly be punishment enough.

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