The parents of a boy struck and killed by an Omaha Public Schools bus have reached a settlement with an insurance carrier for the bus fleet.
The insurance company agreed to a $263,121 settlement for the April 9 death of Haji Mohamed, an 8-year-old second-grader at Springville Elementary.
Haji had just gotten off a bus at 22nd and Sprague Streets. A neighbor’s surveillance camera system showed him walk along Sprague Street before darting across the street in front of a Student Transportation of America bus.
After reviewing the video, prosecutors elected not to charge the driver of the bus, Ashleigh Avant, 33. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine has said Avant “wasn’t in any way criminally responsible for this.”
However, Haji’s parents filed a claim with Student Transportation’s insurance company, National Interstate Insurance Co., and the Omaha Public Schools.
Of the $263,000 settlement, $163,000 will go to Haji’s parents — mother Amina Khamis and father Abdikadir Mohamed Osman, court records show. The remaining $100,000 will be used to pay off medical and legal bills, according to court records.
Omaha attorney Tim Ashford, who represented Haji’s parents, said the settlement avoids “long, protracted litigation” over the child’s death.
While prosecutors say the video showed Haji dart in front of the bus, Ashford said the video also showed that nothing would have obstructed the driver’s view of Haji. There were no parked cars or bushes in the way, Ashford said.
“There was nothing to prevent her from seeing Haji as he ran into the street,” Ashford said.
Haji’s mother has said she bears no anger toward the driver. And Ashford expressed sympathy for her.
“Nobody wakes up in the morning and wants to get in this type of an accident,” he said. “This was a great loss and a tragedy for both the driver and for Haji’s family.”
Haji was born in the United States to a Kenyan family who had fled violence in their home country. He was just 100 feet from his front door when he was struck.
“Haji was such a happy kid, with a sweet personality,” Ashford said. “There is now a hole that can never be filled. The parents and all the siblings miss Haji terribly.”
It was not clear Wednesday whether the settlement money will come solely from the insurance policy or will partly come from taxpayer coffers. Queries to OPS late Wednesday afternoon were not returned.
A court document says that National Interstate Insurance Co., Student Transportation and OPS entered into the settlement “without admitting any liability and in fact specifically denying (it).”