Questions After Boy's Death: How Old is Too Old To Drive a School Bus - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/20/02 - Myrtle Springs

Questions After Boy's Death: How Old is Too Old To Drive a School Bus

The death of Christopher Trejo has some questioning how old is too old to be behind the wheel of a school bus.

The driver of the bus that hit Christopher is 78 years old. It was dark at the time, and the boy was late so he ran in front of the bus to enter the side door, just as the driver pulled away. 

There is a lot of grief in Myrtle Springs. That the small boy taken so suddenly leaves many questions. Pheneas Faulkner, 78 years old pulled away in the pre-dawn darkness, just as Christopher tried to catch up. Faulkner says he just couldn't see. A neighbor questioned why he was behind the wheel at all.

"I don't have any problem hiring an elderly but they don't need to put him in a job he's not capable of doing," says neighbor Mike Henson. Wills Point Superintendent Bill Stewart doesn't think age was ever a factor.

"I think you have to look at the overall health of the individual," he says.  Faulkner passed his physical just last year.

"Years ago the state had a mandatory retirement age of 70 but the age discrimination laws have relieved that," Stewart says. "Many people that age are still able to function well have many, many years experience driving."

In the community Friday, many we spoke with were adamant... age can't determine ability. 

Wesley Sherwood, Myrtle Springs resident: "When I'm 78, maybe I'll be too old, but he may be alright."

Phenes Faulkner also has six convictions for DWI, though the last one was way back in 1974. Stewart says he knew about the record, but Faulkner has never had a problem in the 15-plus years he's been driving.

Stewart: "The state rule is ten years, and after ten years they can regain their license to drive a school bus, of course this has been 20-something years."

Area resident Wilma Scott: "Anyone is entitled to a change of life, in other words he may have done DWIs years ago, that should not be considered now 25 years later."

Faulkner is now on leave.  Stewart says: "He's taking it very hard... Basically devastated he and his wife both."

Stewart says Wills Point bus drivers will be given extra safety training. And Christopher's family says they are still planning his funeral.

DPS is still investigating exactly what happened Thursday morning.

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