By Rupert Howell/ The Panolian (www.panolian.com)
Bus students are supposed to sit in their seats.
It’s a good thing Batesville Intermediate School second grader Michael Perry wasn’t following the rules Monday afternoon.
He was airlifted to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis with a “grazing gunshot” wound in the back and is expected to fully recover.
According to Sheriff Dennis Darby, a bullet from the rifle of a hunter who was in a deer stand in the area was the culprit.
“Right now, it’s considered a hunting accident,” Darby said and referred any questions about charges to the District Attorney’s office and also confirmed, “It was an isolated incident.”
District Attorney John Champion echoed Darby’s statement and said that investigators were still at work Tuesday afternoon at the scene and noted he could not rule out charges. He said a person has been cooperating with investigators.
One source close to the investigation said hunting violation charges may be included for using a contemporary rifle during primitive weapon season. Another source said that the hunter was unaware anyone had been shot until contacted later Monday night and told of the incident.
Perry was obviously leaning over the seat in front of him on an otherwise routine trip home from school, SP transportation director Scootie Murphree and School Board vice president Lygunnah Bean surmised after seeing Perry’s wound and the placement of the hole in the window caused by the stray bullet on bus 071.
Had he been properly sitting, the outcome might have been worse, Bean and Murphree agreed in different conversations.
That bus had stopped with about 15 students left to deliver home while traveling on Central Academy Road at Cold Springs Road. The shot had hit the bus, traveling north, just seconds before, coming from the east about seven-tenths of a mile back in a clump of woods near Cline Road.
It was then that the driver realized what had happened and summoned authorities.
While Murphree and Bean were contacting parents of the students who had been aboard the ill-fated bus, deputies and game wardens with Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks had hit the woods, combing them for signs that might lead them to the culprit. Mississippi Bureau of Investigation officers are also involved in the investigation.
Meanwhile Perry was still in the Memphis hospital Tuesday with doctors trying to determine when best to send him home, according to Darby.