A brutal school bus beating in Florida last month left one 13-year-old boy with two black eyes and a broken arm. Among those witnessing the altercation was the driver of the bus, 64-year-old John Moody, who is being sharply criticized for his inaction, reports UPI.com on Aug. 5.
The July 9 beating occurred in Pinellas, Fla., and was recorded by the bus camera. Moody was driving the students home from the Lealman Intermediate School summer classes.
“I got a fight,” Moody says in a call to his dispatch. “I need help in a hurry. I got a fight I need help in a hurry.”
Moody pleads with dispatch to do something.
“Get somebody out here quick, quick, quick they’re about to beat this boy to death. Please get somebody here quick. And they’re still doing it. There’s nothing I can do,” Moody adds.
Three 15-year-old boys were viciously attacking a 13-year-old boy, repeatedly punching and kicking him as he lay helpless in the seat. The attack reportedly came after the younger boy told school officials that the three older boys attempted to sell him drugs.
Moody tried to explain his inaction, saying he was “shocked” and “petrified.”
“The three boys just jumped on him and started pounding on him. And I did all I can,” he said. “I was looking. It was like I was in shock. I was petrified.”
Gulport Police Chief Robert Vincent disagreed with Moody’s assessment.
“There was clearly an opportunity for him to intervene and or check on the welfare of the children or the child in this case and he didn’t make any effort to do so,” Vincent said.
Moody went to help the victim, but the younger boy ran off the bus.
The boys in the video were arrested on assault charges. As for Moody, who recently retired, no charges were brought against him for his inaction.
Gulfport police turned the case over to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office to decide if Moody should be brought up on child neglect charges. Moody’s attorney, Frank McDermott, said his client did what he was trained to do. Per Pinellas County school policy, bus drivers and teachers are not required to intervene; they can do so at their own risk.
In other counties, school officials are told not to even touch students, under any circumstances, unless they are being physically assaulted themselves.
“It was preposterous,” McDermott said of the consideration of child neglect charges. “I don’t think law enforcement should ever tell citizens to intervene in a violent attack. John did what he was trained to do.”
Moody says he is haunted by what happened and has many sleepless nights.
“I wanted to help him so bad,” he said. “I wanted to help him.”
The incident opens the discussion of the dangers administrators and teachers face in today’s schools. School violence is brought on at a very early age; teens and pre-teens acting in outrageously disrespectful ways and putting school officials at risk.
Do you think John Moody could and should have done more? Leave your thoughts below.