FULTON COUNTY, Ind. — Home videos from Brittany and Shane Ingle show loving moments with their children laughing on the trampoline, throwing water balloons, dressing up for Halloween, and smiling.
It’s a glimpse into the lives of Alivia Stahl, 9, and her twin brothers, Mason and Xzavier Ingle, 6.
“They were truly a blessing all of them,” Brittany said.
But everything changed in a moment on October 30.
“I mean you can still see the marks,” Brittany said standing on State Route 25 in Fulton County. It’s where a driver struck and killed all three kids. “They’re laying on the road right in front of you, and they’re gone.”
The parents said it started out like any other morning. Shane said goodbye to the kids and went to work. Brittany got them breakfast, they got dressed and were excited for trick or treating. She said Alivia was anxious to get to school. Brittany knew another parent was at the bus stop, so she let them out just a moment before her while she grabbed a coat. Her other daughter, who was staying home for a doctor’s appointment, watched her younger siblings from the window while Brittany grabbed her things to get outside.
“I heard Selena, like mom they’re screaming, like something happened. I flew,” she said.
A driver had hit the kids as they crossed the road to get on the bus with its stop arm deployed and lights on.
“Like what was happening? I just, I was coming right there. Like my kids were just here, you know. We just, so I run over there and my son Xzavier was laying this way and Mason was laying this way and their hands were touching,” she said.
While trying to feel for pulses and screaming for the kids to wake up, Brittany realized more than 80 feet away Alivia was hurt too.
“I’m like oh my God, where’s Alivia because they always walk together,” she said.
She kept hope, thinking she felt a faint pulse.
“When I was with her telling her I love her I remember looking back up, like looking over and they started covering my boys with a sheet and I remember like running over there,” she said.
Shane said he got the news the kids were hit at work and rushed home, running past Alivia.
“I’ll never forget that, seeing her boot sitting there and her socks, and you know, then I had to stand out there and wait,” Shane said.
“I turned back around and my daughter was getting covered up, and I ran over there and ripped the sheet like, how can this happen? How did I just lose all my kids in the blink of an eye?, Brittany said. “And that is why M.A.X. Strong is so important.”
Since that day, Brittany and Shane have made it their mission to make sure no parent or child goes through what their family did that day.
They said they already complained to the school district about the bus stop. They said the county coroner, Jeri Good, then helped connect them with State Sen. Randy Head, and they took their fight to the Statehouse for what they call the M.A.X. Strong Act.
“It’s about holding people accountable for their actions,” Shane said.
It increases penalties for violating school bus traffic laws, it makes roadside pick up mandatory on state or federal highways except when within city limits or when there is no other option, and it requires a review of bus stops annually.
It passed the Senate unanimously and moved out of Indiana’s House of Representatives unanimously on Monday. But the latest version is without a provision for vendors to provide school bus stop arm cameras for school districts that can be paid for with fees from offenders and without a provision making a license suspension mandatory with an offense.
“We’ve gotten so far and now I feel like they’ve taken back everything that they said they would want to do,” Brittany said.
While the parents said they were disappointed in the changes, they still said the bill was a great first step.
“I’m going to keep talking to people in the House until the end of session and see if we can make any progress, and if we can, we will. And if we can’t, we’ll take what we can get,” Sen. Randy Head, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, said.
It’s expected to move on to a conference committee next.
“We have to make sure this just isn’t just another thing that happened in the world,” Shane said.
Their world is now without Alivia, Mason and Xzavier. They buried them together, all holding hands just like they were known to walk to the school bus doing. The spot of the crash is now marked with flowers and a small memorial.
Brittany wears their fingerprints on a necklace Good gifted her. She considers Good family after she watched over the children at the funeral home. The boys’ room was just decorated how they wanted it. It’s still filled with their crafts, toys and blankets that covered the kids. Their school pictures hang on the wall in the living room. They’re reminders that bring comfort to the Ingles as they try to get through each holiday and each day.
“Happy birthday!” the boys shout in one home video as they make a cake for their dad.
This week would have been their 7th birthdays.