Family of daughter run over by school bus sues driver, Garfield 16 district

Annaliese Backner

A lawsuit was recently filed against a Parachute school bus driver and his employer for the wrongful death of a small child.

Annaliese Backner, an 11-year-old Garfield 16 school student, was fatally struck by a school bus March 3.

Brandon and Leandra Backner — the child’s natural parents — are seeking a civil jury trial against driver Steve Lawrence Shaw and the district itself. The complaint filed July 7 by Anderson Hemmat LLC of Greenwood Village in Garfield County District Court alleges Shaw was negligent, saying he “failed to exercise the highest degree of care” and “greatly deviated from a degree of caution, care and diligence” necessary to operate the vehicle.

Shaw’s alleged negligence resulted in a number of damages, the family’s suit claims. This includes grief, loss of companionship, impairment of quality of life and more.

“Plaintiffs have also incurred and are entitled to recovery for reasonable funeral and burial expenses as well as net financial loss sustained by Plaintiffs due to the death of Annaliese Backner,” court documents state.

The family also submitted a claim for relief against Garfield 16 School District for its liability in employing Shaw.

Around 7:30 a.m. March 3, Shaw was pulling away from a school bus stop in Parachute. Backner ran alongside the bus trying to catch it before falling in front of the bus.

“Defendant Shaw continues driving and never glances at his passenger-side mirror,” court documents state. “Video and eye-witness statements confirm that just before the injury and death that morning, the bus occupants were vocalizing to the presence of the child running along the side of the bus.”

“Defendant Shaw proceeds without reaction and without further attempts to check his passenger-side mirror.”

The suit goes on to claim that despite Backner being just feet away in what properly trained drivers are taught is the “danger zone” and bus occupants’ vocal efforts, Shaw didn’t realize her presence until after contact was made, which caused near instant death.

An initial report conducted by the Colorado Highway Patrol says Shaw, who was driving 6 mph during the time of the incident, was not impaired or distracted, the Denver Post reported. He also has a valid license and clean driving record.

No criminal charges were filed against Shaw or anyone else following the death.

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