Father recounts struggle adding seat belts to Montana school buses

The wounds that result from tragedies like the one in Chattanooga may sadly never heal, and it's a pain one local family knows all too well.    

In 2008, Randy and Carol Fark lost their 7-year-old daughter, Sarah, in a school bus crash near Huntley as the bus pulled out in front of an oncoming pickup truck.

After this tragedy, the family worked to change the law to make school buses safer in Montana.

KULR-8 looked into the bill and where things are today.

Following Sarah’s death on April 21, 2008, her parents knew they needed to take action to prevent any other parent from feeling their pain.

Their goal was to ensure school buses in Montana would be safer, and, in their minds, that meant ensuring Montana school buses were equipped with three-point safety harnesses.

With the help of then Representative Jill Cohenour, a bill was drafted for the 2009 legislative session with Randy and Carol Fark drafting a letter outlining their support for HB 456. The letter shares their story about how Sarah was sleeping on the bus at the time of the impact. The letter details their belief that Sarah would have survived the crash had she had the option of wearing a seat belt. To their disappointment, the bill stalled in committee.

We reached out to Randy Fark to see where his fight to get seat belts on Montana school buses stands today. Fark was emotional on the phone as he told us he and his family are hurting for the families of those children hurt and killed in the Tennessee bus crash. Fark is frustrated that more hasn't been done in the Treasure State and said he wishes he could have done more following Sarah's death. He also said he is hopeful this latest incident will inspire our own state legislators to take action in the 2017 legislative session, adding "We need to ensure every child in Montana that boards a school bus is returned home safely.”

We also reached out to Jill Cohenour about that 2009 bill. She's now a state senator and tells us she hopes to make school bus safety a focus this year. She said we cannot continue to do things the same way, and education is they key to changing minds.

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