Twenty children waited patiently to begin their walk across the street. The crossing guard, holding a portable stop sign to alert traffic, gave a couple of quick blasts on her whistle. She smiled at the group of Russell Elementary School students and gave her signature “okay to cross” nod.
Suddenly, an SUV driven by Jose Hernandez approached the intersection. He was accompanied by his girlfriend, Vanessa Del Pilar Martinez. The crossing guard raised her stop sign while quickly motioning for the children to wait at the curb.
Hernandez shouted, “I’m not stopping!”
The guard held her sign even higher, aiming it at the SUV. “‘You have to stop, the children come first,'” she said to the driver.
Martinez got out of the SUV. She slammed her car door and made a beeline for the crossing guard.
Sensing danger, the guard turned to walk away from the angry woman. But Martinez caught her and knocked her to the ground.
The youngsters stood at the curb watching in horror as Hernandez, too, got out of the car to join his girlfriend in beating the guard. Then, as the battered woman lay on the pavement, Martinez tore the guard’s whistle and ID tag from around her neck. Hernandez grabbed her stop sign.
The two road-raged thugs then took the items, climbed back into their SUV, and sped off.
Luckily, several witnesses jotted down the SUV’s license number and called the police. Deputies caught up with the suspects and arrested them for the assault. Detective Frank Heredia said the couple had someplace to go and were in a big hurry to get there.
Hernandez and Martinez were placed in jail under a $50,000 bond.
The children were offered counseling.
The crossing guard was battered and bruised, but not seriously injured. She was more concerned that the children had to witness such a brutal incident.
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I have to wonder what event could have been so important that Hernandez and Martinez couldn’t wait two minutes while a group of innocent kids crossed the street. Why did they feel the need to punish a 59-year-old woman for doing her job, protecting children? And why, why, why were witnesses (several of them) on hand to copy a license number but not step forward to stop the beating?
What would you have done?