‘He was the light of my life’ Family speaks after 19-year-old dies from bus lift injuries

An investigation is underway in the death of 19-year-old Jordan Benage, who died after he sustained injuries from a fall off a school bus lift.
Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 9:39 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - An investigation is underway in the death of 19-year-old Jordan Benage, who died after he sustained injuries from a fall off a school bus lift.

According to police reports, Benage was being dropped off at the Tallahassee Developmental Center on Appleyard Drive around 2 p.m. on March 7. Jordan and his wheelchair fell from the bus lift, hitting the pavement from about 8-feet up in the air.

The police report stated that he suffered an arm injury, a laceration to his face, nasal bleeding and a few other cuts from the fall. Jordan was taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where he died several hours later.

It’s still a very emotional time for Jordan’s family. Both his mother and grandmother shared that he was a bright and kind person. Jordan’s grandmother Toby Parr said she was in the process of moving him to Minnesota with her and was expecting the process to be finalized in a few weeks.

Parr said Jordan was her grandson and the light of her life. She still has so many questions regarding how something like this happened.

While the incident is still under investigation, the police report stated that one of the staff members at TDC said that Jordan had a habit of turning his wheelchair on when he was not supposed to. However, a caretaker at the facility said she had never witnessed him do such a thing.

Local Florida State professor and disabilities advocate J.R. Harding said he’s experienced a similar situation and that Jordan’s unfortunate death is proof that more safety precautions are necessary.

“While traveling in DC on business, someone did not tie my wheelchair down correctly and I literally flipped straight over when they hit the gas. Smacked my head open, and had to get stitches to the back of the head so I get it,” said Harding, who has been in a wheelchair for over 30 years.

Harding explained that a number of things can go wrong when a person with disabilities is not secured or offered proper assistance when being loaded and unloaded into vehicles.

This is why Harding believes vehicles that lower themselves to the ground with a ramp that does not require suspending someone into the air are much safer options than lifts.

Harding said from experience that motorized wheelchairs should be turned off, secured and monitored while on the lift. He also shared that proper training is necessary for personnel dealing with people who have special needs.

“It’s not something that is systemic that happens all the time, but it happens. And it happens enough to make sure that people are properly trained, and people pay attention because things can go horribly wrong,” said Harding.

Jordan has three other siblings, and according to his grandmother, his death has hit them all very hard. He would have turned 20 on Wednesday, March 16.

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