THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY; TRAGIC DEATH OF 16-YEAR OLD

He didn’t have the certification to drive a school bus that big…When he was driving a smaller school bus, he was caught speeding in it a few months ago…The teenager driving the other vehicle has had his license since June…No one knows yet (at least the public), exactly what happened.

Whenever there is a tragic situation, particularly one in which a life is lost, you can count on the fact that there is much more to it than meets the eye. And that information usually trickles out piece by piece.

Such is the case with the heartbreaking school bus accident last Saturday morning on I-84 westbound, near the Hartford-West Hartford line. Initially, all we knew was that 16-year old Vikas Parikh, a student from Rocky Hill, died of a blunt traumatic head injury. Another Rocky Hill teenager who was on the bus remained hospitalized in serious condition Monday at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.

By all accounts, Parikh was an exceptional young man (the school bus was heading to Farmington for a robotics event) and a whiz at math and science. In one of the obligatory local TV news interviews of fellow students, one young man described Parikh as “someone who would change the world.”

Each day since the accident, little by little, more information on the ‘story behind the story’ has come out. Nearly all of it now focused on the driver of the bus, 44-year old Paul Burns. He was certified to drive school buses or other public passenger vehicles that weigh up to 26,000 pounds and carry 15 or fewer people, including the driver. The school bus he was driving Saturday weighed 29,600 pounds and had 16 passengers plus the driver. His license was suspended yesterday.

It was disclosed yesterday that Burns was in New Britain Superior Court last week to answer to a charge of speeding while driving a (smaller) school bus. Burns was driving 78 mph in a 50-mph zone. Burns was by himself at the time.

Still to be disclosed in all of this is how the two vehicles collided on the highway. Was speed involved? Unsafe lane changes? (which happen all the time if you’ve spent any time on the highways.) Unsafe vehicles? We’ll all know soon enough as we learn the ‘story behind the story.’

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US Sen. Chris Dodd may not be running for reelection but that hasn’t stopped him from pushing issues near and dear to him. He made an appearance at St. Francis Hospital yesterday to push the Democrats’ plan to reform health care.

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Do Republicans love or hate the Federal Stimulus Plan? It depends on the Republican you ask. Nearly all Republicans running for office, particularly those challenging incumbents, hate the plan and say it hasn’t helped create jobs or assisted small business in any way (as it was suppose to do). US Senate candidate Linda McMahon, in a TV spot says, “Instead of giving the money to small businesses that create jobs; they gave the money to government agencies. Do government agencies create jobs? You know the answer to that one.”

On the other side of the other side of the coin are politicians like Governor Jodi Rell.
According to The Day of New London newspaper, Rell’s public relations staff released at least 86 press releases in 2009 highlighting the governor’s use of stimulus money for everything from nutrition for the poor to rail transit improvements to solving criminal “cold cases.”
Through the stabilization aid to the state government alone, nearly $1.3 billion will shore up the state’s Medicaid program through fiscal 2011, state budget officials project.
More than $444 million will have been directed for education expenses over the same time period, preventing what stimulus defenders say could have been steep cuts to cities and towns and widespread layoffs of teachers, The Day wrote.