HOUSTON (KTRK/CNN) - A frightening moment in which a driver zoomed by a stopped school bus, barely missing a 5-year-old girl, was caught on camera by the girl’s mother, resulting in the 18-year-old suspect’s arrest.
Julio Coreas, 18, is charged with reckless driving. Police say he was behind the wheel of a blue Toyota seen on video as it raced past a stopped school bus, nearly hitting 5-year-old Melina on her second day of kindergarten.
"He put my daughter’s life in danger, and no telling how many other children he has done this to before,” said Melina’s mother, Josephine Kirk-Taylor.
Coreas himself allegedly admitted to police he knew what he was doing at the time was wrong, saying in court records he “saw the bus stopping, and I was accelerating. That was my mistake.”
Kirk-Taylor was standing outside Aug. 28 with her other two children, waiting for the kindergartener to get home. Melina got off the bus and started walking across the street, when Coreas allegedly zipped past.
In video of the incident, Kirk-Taylor can be heard screaming for her daughter to stop, so she wouldn’t be hit. Thankfully, Melina listened to her mother.
"Thank God, the girl reacted to the reckless indifference and willful disregard for a state law that is designed to protect the most precious cargo of any vehicle on our roadways, and that's our children," said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. "If it wasn't for her self-awareness, we might have had a different conversation today."
Acevedo said in a press conference Wednesday he is investigating the case after Kirk-Taylor reported the first officer on scene in August refused to take a report or even watch the cell phone video.
"We are looking at our initial response because I think we fell short with it. Our job is to document then investigate,” Acevedo said.
Melina’s school bus driver now stops in the middle of the street at a slant to help protect students.
The Houston Police Department issued 1,000 citations to drivers who were caught speeding through school zones and violating safety laws from Aug. 26 to Sept. 6, according to Acevedo.
He promises the department will continue to target people who pass school buses through their citywide School Area Safety and Enforcement Program, which aims to crack down on reckless driving.
“Our traffic enforcement division is actually following school buses in unmarked cars, and they're calling out violations,” Acevedo said.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety are assisting with the program.