Montana Mother of Deceased Child Accuses Head Start

November 24, 2008

The mother of a Butte, Mont. 3-year-old who died in 2006 has filed a lawsuit attributing the death to negligence by a Head Start bus driver and bus assistant.

The lawsuit by Chastity Hodges names Human Resources Council District XII, which oversees the Head Start child development program in Butte.

Eternity Hamburg died on Nov. 16, 2006, after getting off a bus. The suit filed in District Court charges that a rear tire rolled over the child and injured her fatally. The bus driver and the assistant did not ensure that before the bus moved, Eternity was at a safe distance and under the control of a relative who met her, the suit says.

Both the Human Resources Council executive, Elissa Mitchell, and its lawyer, Tom Marra, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The relative who met the bus, and told police that Eternity collapsed after it pulled away, was charged with homicide amid investigators’ suspicion that she had been beaten while in his care. The charge was later dropped.

Dr. Walter Kemp, deputy state medical examiner, originally declared the death a homicide. He changed the ruling to “undetermined” after a tire print was found on the child’s coat.

The suit seeks a jury trial and unspecified monetary compensation.

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