BEAVERCREEK, Ohio (WDTN) – 20 years ago Friday, a freak accident killed 13-year-old Brandi Browder of Beavercreek.
Her coat’s drawstring got caught in her school bus handrail. She fell and was killed by the bus as it drove off.
A lot has changed in the past 20 years. Children’s coats are not supposed to have drawstrings on them and the set of rules for school buses has gotten longer.
But Brandi’s mother says more still needs to be done to keep another parent from having to go through what she did.
“Your heart breaks. My heart broke that day in half,” exclaimed Debbie Browder.
It’s been 20 years, but every time Debbie Browder sees a bus she’s taken back to the day her daughter Brandi died.
“Running up to the scene. Sheets were up all around. I knew it was bad. I couldn’t get near her. They would not let me near her. I wish I would have now. I just wanted to hold her. Just one last time,” said Browder.
Brandi was wearing this exact style of coat as she was getting off her school bus.
The drawstring around her waist got caught up on the bus’s hand rail. The driver took off before she could get loose.
A freak accident that helped spark national attention to several safety concerns with buses and clothing designs
“Brandi’s death has to mean something. We have to something about this,” said Debbie.
Buses originally had handrails like this. Drawstrings and baggy clothing could easily get caught up on them. Around the time of Brandi’s death, recalls were coming out and safety measures were put in place.
“We actually put some rubber gaskets behind the metal base of the handrails so they were attached to the walls of the bus. That eliminated any pinch points in there so if there was a knot in the drawstring, it wouldn’t get caught,” said Pete Japikse, the Deputy Director of Management Services for the Ohio School Boards Association.
The bus doors are now designed with windows that go all the way down to increase visibility.
“We teach and require our drivers to count the kids while they are on the bus and count them again once they are off the bus, standing in a location where they are very visible,” said Japikse.
The rules for drivers have changed as well.
The way children’s clothing is designed has also changed. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has reports of more than 25 children dying after a drawstring on their clothes became entangled on playground equipment and buses.
“They should be banned from clothing. Manufacturers can’t put them in their clothing. Ban it. Altogether. Look how many kids would be saved,” said Browder.
2 NEWS Investigates found there’s no ban in place but the CPSC did take action.
In 1997, two years after Brandi died, it issued an industry voluntary standard. Most companies stopped putting drawstrings on kids clothes, but not everyone did.
There were still injuries being reported and products being recalled.
so In 2011, the CPSC changed that voluntary standard to give itself more regulatory authority.
Debbie wants clothing companies to completely ban drawstrings and would like to see aids on the bus to help keep an eye on students. She says she will continue to push for that everyday.
In the meantime, she asks parents to cut all strings and take a look inside their child’s bus.
“You have to watch out for your children. I’m telling you, life without them is horrible,” said Browder.
2 NEWS Investigates looked online Friday and found there are still recalls as recent as a few months ago for clothes that have drawstrings.