Family of cheerleader struck, injured in Newark files lawsuit against school board

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Tuesday, March 26, 2024
Family of cheerleader struck in Newark files lawsuit against school
Toni Yates has more on the cheerleader family's lawsuit against the school.

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A lawsuit has been filed by the family of a New Jersey high school cheerleader who was critically injured by a hit-and-run driver in February.

Chiara Jones, 18, was one of several cheerleaders who had just returned to Arts High School on a bus after a competition.

She was struck just after 10 p.m. on Feb. 4 while crossing Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The lawsuit alleges the school bus company and the Newark Board of Education were negligent in how students exited from the school bus to cross the street.

"We have a bus driver who failed to turn on the red flashing lights lights and engage the stop sign until after the accident, we have chaperones on the school bus who should have exited the bus before the students and made sure it was safe to cross," said attorney James Lynch with Lynch Law Firm.

Police say a driver veered around the bus and struck Jones while she was crossing the street before taking off.

Jones' mother, Tomeika Hines-Jones, has since left her job. She said nothing matters more to her now than her duties to her daughter who is at Kessler Rehab suffering from a traumatic brain injury.

Her mother had sent an Uber for her that was waiting across the street.

"The Uber was still sitting there and I sent her a message asking are you still on the bus, and I didn't get a response, so I called response," Hines-Jones said. "When I go back and look at those text messages, I'm like oh my God, I'm sending my baby a message and calling her and she's laying in the street."

Jones was supposed to graduate in June and had colleges knocking on her door. She was looking forward to starting her freshman year at Clark Atlantic University and planned to major in journalism and business management.

Her family says she still has a long road ahead. They are motivated by prayer and small miracles -- like when Jones responded to her father's request to raise her hand if she wanted to hear music.

"So I waited, she trembled, she just opened her eyes wide and raised her hand and then she put it back down," her father Stanley Jones said.

Newark's Board of Education said it does not respond to pending litigation.

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