CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Cheatham County school bus driver is being hailed a hero after keeping her children safe and helping authorities find a hit-and-run suspect who drove dangerously past her stopped school bus.
“She did save that child’s life, and all my drivers are heroes because they deal with this on a daily basis,” said Cal Blacker, the transportation director for Cheatham County Schools.
Early in the morning of April 3, the bus was coming to a stop. As it did, the red lights activated and the stop sign arm swung away from the bus.
Within moments, a Ford F-150 with a camper shell sped by the bus on the driver’s side of the vehicle.
According to investigators, students were getting on the bus from both sides of the road.
Thankfully, the bus driver was alert and signaled for the children who had to cross the road to stop and wait for the speeding truck to pass.
The pickup truck, driven by 47-year-old David Dearfield, was not located immediately.
Investigators say, just moments before he blew past the stopped school bus, he got into a crash with a Cheatham County Central High School student. Nobody was injured, but authorities say Dearfield fled the scene.
During the afternoon run, that same bus driver saw the pickup truck. She got the location and tag info for officers who went to Dearfield’s Cheatham County home.
On the bodycam video, you can hear the deputy say “fresh damage” as he noticed dents in the passenger side of the truck in the driveway.
The deputies knocked ferociously on Dearfield’s door. After several minutes, he answered the door.
Deputy: “Who was driving it this morning?”
Deputy: “Alright, put your hands behind your back.”
After cuffing the suspect, the deputy said, “You almost didn’t give a little kid a last call this morning.”
Dearfield: “No, I just barely touched him. I freaked out.”
Deputy: “No, the one you almost hit getting on the bus, home slice.”
Dearfield: “No, I didn’t hit nobody getting on a bus.”
Deputy: “He almost ran over a little kid… Listen, you left the scene of an accident, passed a school bus stopped out. I can’t take a word you say as truth.”
Dearfield: “I’m admitting to it.”
According to Blacker, his bus drivers are heroes.
“This happens every day,” Blacker said. “These drivers are trained for it. They know what to look for and they understand, and she’s one of them.”
Dearfield went to jail. He was charged with a slew of offenses, including reckless endangerment, due care, failure to give immediate notice of an accident and overtaking a school bus.
According to Cheatham County Jail authorities, Dearfield was last arrested for theft and burglary in 2019. Before that, it was reckless driving in 2000.