Police said they arrested a man who was seen speeding past a school bus last month and nearly running over a young girl.
Julio Coreas, 18, was arrested and charged with reckless driving — a Class B misdemeanor — on Wednesday, exactly two weeks after video surfaced of him zooming down a residential street and narrowly missing 5-year-old Melina Kirk-Taylor as she exited the school bus, police said.
Melina’s mother, Josephine Kirk-Taylor, was recording the moment from the sidewalk across the street with hopes of capturing her daughter’s smile as she returned from her second day of kindergarten.
In the video, the yellow school bus arrived at the girl’s home and the red stop sign popped out — signaling to drivers behind the bus and in front of the bus to stop. That’s when a blue Toyota Corolla flashed past the bus, ignoring the stop sign.
“No! Wait! Wait! Wait,” the mother screamed. “Stop!”
Thankfully, Melina heard her mother’s warning and she was not harmed.
“My daughter could have been dead if she’d taken one more step,” Kirk-Taylor said at a police briefing Wednesday. “I want to give thanks to the people who don’t even know me and they shared this video so that my daughter could receive justice.”
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said his team started the investigation with “little hope of holding someone accountable,” but they managed to find the culprit with the help of Kirk-Taylor’s persistence.
“Thank God that little girl reacted to what I believe is the reckless indifference and the willful disregard for a state law that’s designed to protect the most precious cargo of any vehicle on our roadways and that’s our children,” Acevedo said at the briefing. “She was able to save her own life though her own actions because if it wasn’t for her self-awareness I believe that we might be having a different conversation today.”
After watching the video, Acevedo said he believes the driver made a “conscious decision to disregard the flashing lights and the stop sign.”
“Our initial response wasn’t as good as it should have been, but the mom stayed persistent,” he said. “We’re going to continue to target people who pass school buses. Our traffic enforcement division is actually following school buses in unmarked cars, and they’re calling out violations.”
Kirk-Taylor was thrilled the department managed the arrest. She hopes it inspires others to follow traffic rules at all times.
“I really hope that we as a community can pay attention and save our children by following the traffic laws so that this doesn’t keep recurring,” Kirk-Taylor said. “Children have lost their lives due to these matters, but I hope this is a lesson to all reckless drivers to just stop and let the children cross the street. It takes 10 seconds.”