Makinzy Smith’s grandfather calls for tougher laws after driver’s first appearance

Gary Phillips, grandfather of Makinzy Smith, hopes the death of his grandson will lead to better laws to improve safety for students boarding buses. Smith, a West Rowan High School student, was killed when he was hit by a car when he crossed a road to board a school bus Thursday morning. (Andy Morrissey/Salisbury Post)
Gary Phillips, grandfather of Makinzy Smith, hopes the death of his grandson will lead to better laws to improve safety for students boarding buses. Smith, a West Rowan High School student, was killed when he was hit by a car when he crossed a road to board a school bus Thursday morning. (Andy Morrissey/Salisbury Post)

The grandfather of Makinzy Smith, the 17-year-old West Rowan High School junior killed while catching the school bus, called for a system-wide change in the way students board the bus.

Gary Phillips spoke with reporters Monday following the first court appearance for Barbara Smith, 57, who was charged Thursday with felony passing a stopped school bus.


Smith did not appear in court, instead her attorney, James Davis, stood on her behalf. She is scheduled Dec. 4 for a probable causing hearing.

Phillips, who is the maternal grandfather, of the teenager called for a revision to the school system’s policies statewide that allows students to cross the street to board the school bus.

“It’s been a horrible tragedy and my goal is to see the school system is changed and not just here, but all across the nation so that children will be safe,” he said.

Makinzy was killed as he was crossing the street to catch the school bus. The school bus had come to a complete stop, the stop arm was extended and the red lights were on, officials have said.

Phillips said Makinzy was mature for his age and was a thoughtful and respectful young man.

“He was greatly loved by everybody wherever he went,” Phillips said.

He said does not have any hatred toward Barbara Smith, and in fact has known Barbara Smith and her family for a number of years.

Phillips said he knows Barbara Smith is hurting following this tragedy as well.

Makinzy’s death is the third traffic-related death involving a West Rowan student in two years. Just last year on the first day of school, two West Rowan sophomores, Cody Rives and Terry Johnson were killed while leaving school.

For more information see Tuesday’s Post.

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