Remember Nathan Key the 5-year-old

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2017

It’s one of those moments you’d like to forget but never will be able to. I still can’t to this day.

I was working as the managing editor of the Laurel Leader-Call when the call came in across the scanner that a child had been hit by a car at a school bus stop. It’s a parents worst nightmare.

The child was seriously injured and deputies first on the scene loaded him into their patrol vehicle and sped to the hospital, flying by the newspaper as I looked out my office window.

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The child, 5-year-old Nathan Key, passed away later that December night in 2009.

The driver who hit the young boy sped from the scene and was later captured. Through the investigation it was determined Dominic Gebben had passed the stopped school bus because “he was in a hurry” and struck Nathan as he stepped off the bus. Gebben received a 20-year sentence in prison for manslaughter.

The damage Gebben did that day ruined the lives of two families. A thoughtless conscious decision to gamble with the lives of innocent children that resulted in the death of a kindergartner.

Nathan’s death lead to state legislation that stiffens the penalties for drivers who pass a stopped school bus and has been adopted by other states in the nation. “Nathan’s Law” certainly hasn’t prevented more people from passing stopped school buses and children being injured, but it has become a stronger tool in prosecuting those who do violate the law.

That’s why I was pleased recently to see the Vicksburg Warren School District take the proactive steps of using signage on school buses reminding motorists of Nathan Key and the law he represents.

“That sign on the back says ‘Stop. Remember Nathan’s Law,’” Robert Bass, VWSD Transportation Director, said. “It makes people aware and tries to get them to slow down and be more observant when school buses are loading and unloading. This was at an unloading zone. It was actually at his (Nathan’s) bus stop where he was unloading off the bus and a car came around and killed him.”

But I want you to remember when you are stopped behind a school bus and see his name that Nathan Key is also much more than the name of a law. If he had lived, he would be a teenager now and in the eighth grade.

Nathan Key was so much more and I beg you not to take that chance of passing a stopped a school bus, no matter how late you are for whatever reason. It’s not worth the heartache or consequences to tear a part another family.

Rob Sigler is editor of The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at