Parents, police and classmates celebrate Nathan Key's birthday - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Parents, police and classmates celebrate Nathan Key's birthday

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Students at North Jones Elementary took a break from class Thursday afternoon on what would have been the sixth birthday of their classmate. 

Nathan Key was killed in December 2009 after being hit by a car that passed his stopped school bus.

"I mainly wanted this to be a celebration of Nathan," said Andy Key, Nathan's father. "I wanted it to be about the kids and the birthday. Because that's what was important to Nathan."

Hundreds of colored balloons symbolized the memory of Nathan as the community rallied behind a proposed law that would stiffen the penalties for people caught passing stopped school buses.

The bill known as Nathan's Law, passed the Mississippi Senate, but now sits in a House committee where it could die, if not brought to the house for a vote.

"I feel like the Democratic leadership of the house is letting me down," said Lori Key, Nathan's mother.

Sheriff Alex Hodge said he didn't understand how "anybody can be opposed to this."

He added, "I don't think that overall that they are opposed to it. It's just the system that we have today."

Hodge said the problem is nothing new in Jones County, and since Nathan's death, has taken matters literally into his own hands by driving buses for the school.

"I recognize the severity of this problem," said Hodge. "We've been running a little sting operation here in Jones County, and have been out six different times in the mornings and evenings myself driving the school bus, and so I've witnessed first-hand this obvious and willful disregard for the law."

Hodge has already written two citations since getting behind the wheel, and said Nathan's Law should be a priority to lawmakers.

"I know they're facing a lot of things up there, a lot of bills and a lot of obstacles," said Hodge. "But to us obviously here in Jones County it's very personal because we're directly affected by it. But what we're fighting for is not just for Jones County, it's for all the citizens who have children on the road all across America each and every day with kids on these school buses."

Nathan's parents plan to bring to drive the state capitol on Tuesday with two chartered buses filled with supporters and a sheriff's escort.

"We're even planning on bringing one of the school buses, having a school bus there at the capitol to show that there is more support for this than just Lori and I," said Andy. "It did my heart good today to be out here with all these kids and all the support from the community to kind of life my spirits back up again."

Copyright 2009 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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