A 7-year-old Worth County girl was killed Tuesday morning by a hit and run driver as she prepared to get on a school bus in rural Kensett. (Jake Rajewsky/The Globe Gazette)

KENSETT, Iowa --- One family's grief may lead to a change in state law.

When Kadyn Halverson, 7, was killed in a hit-and-run accident as she attempted to board a school bus in May, authorities apprehended Aaron Gunderson, 31, of Northwood, for the crime.

Gunderson paid a fine in late May for failure to obey a stop sign and yield the right of way, according to reports.

Halverson's grandmother, Kathy Meyer --- the mother of Kadyn's stepfather, Ryan --- thinks that fine was not enough.

"It is unbelievable the millions of motorists doing this every year," she said.

Shortly after Halverson's death, the family started a campaign to increase those fines from a few hundred dollars to thousands, putting it on a par with traffic offenses like operating while intoxicated.

They're calling it Kadyn's Law and hope to get state legislators to introduce it in next year's session.

"We're trying to make something good out of a tragic accident," Meyer said.

Under their proposed version, motorists who illegally pass a school bus would get a first-time fine of $1,000, $2,000 for their second offense and $3,000 for the third.

It's steep, but Meyer said that's how people will start respecting the law.

"For the type of accident that happens, (fines) are not stiff enough," she said.

Schools are also trying to stop motorists from speeding past school buses without putting undue burden on bus drivers.

In Cedar Falls, 30 buses were fitted with three cameras each thanks to a $64,703 grant last year, said Doug Nefzger, director of business affairs for the school district. One of those cameras is outside the bus and acts like a red light camera, snapping pictures of offending motorists.

"Based on the information we can see, (police) are able to issue summons to those vehicles," Nefzger said.

He was unsure of the number of summonses issued by police, but said it had happened at least once. The school district does not keep statistics on motorists passing buses, he said.

"I think it happens more often than folks realize it would," Nefzger said. "Anytime a vehicle passes a school bus with its arm out, it's a problem."

When that vehicle takes a life, said Meyer, it's clear things need to change.

"I think people see that it is truly an issue in our nation, and that --- looking at statistics, looking at the different laws throughout --- it's just to the point where people feel this is very much needed," Meyer said. "Our little ones are very precious."


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