Crime Watch 8

Police: Wisconsin student hit by school bus had signal to cross

KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WBAY) – A 12-year-old Kaukauna boy had been given the signal to cross when he was fatally hit by a school bus last week.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Police Lt. Jamie Graff said Justin A. Johnson, a 7th grader at Riverview Middle School, was walking home with friends Sept. 6 when he pushed the crosswalk signal at the corner of E. 2nd St. and Crooks Ave. As Justin entered the intersection, a school bus turning left onto E. 2nd St. hit Justin with the front of the bus.

The bus driver has been identified as 61-year-old Anthony Ritacco of Appleton. He has been employed by Kobussen Buses, Ltd. for 3 years, and has 30 years of school bus driving experience. Ritacco has a clean driving record, police say.

Ritacco had a green light-but not a green arrow-and was waiting for oncoming traffic to clear before he turned left. “He turned and didn’t see Justin,” Graff said.

Graff says the Outagamie County District Attorney’s Office is waiting for toxicology reports from the Wisconsin State Crime Lab before making decisions on possible charges. That could take a few weeks.

Graff says police have been working with the community, businesses, and the school district to come up with alternate routes and safety precautions in the area. He says parents have been concerned about increased traffic due to the closure of a nearby bridge.

New safety measures include:

•Adding a crossing guard at the intersection.

•Making green turn arrows longer.

•Expera is altering its shifts to reduce traffic in the area as kids are getting out of school.

•Lowered speed limit and speed bumps at the 1st Street alley drop off.

Kobussen has released the following statement:

“In the 78-year history of Kobussen bus we have not had a tragic accident like this one … We will continue working with school bus drivers, the city and the school district to maximize safety.”