Much like many other eight-year-olds, Harmoney Harper brimmed with anticipation as she looked forward to commencing the new academic term at Oaklawn Elementary in Wichita, Kansas, earlier this month.
Although her inaugural school day was a joyful affair, Harmoney’s journey was tragically truncated, leaving her family and the local community in a state of profound sorrow.
On the morning of August 16th, Harmoney was awaiting her school bus, standing alongside her brother near their home. It was then that an unforeseen and devastating incident unfolded as she was struck by another school bus.
Despite the swift response of first responders, Harmoney remained unresponsive and, despite resuscitation efforts, she passed away. This heart-wrenching incident transpired around 07:20 am. The specifics regarding the number of students aboard the bus during the accident remain unclear, but authorities have confirmed that no other individuals sustained injuries.
Jasper Harper, Harmoney’s father, recounted the sequence of events with a heavy heart, recalling: “My wife said she heard my son screaming for his sister, and she came outside. I got woke up to ‘I need you now.’ I got dressed. Before I made it to the front door, I had heard, ‘Call 911, my daughter’s dead.’ She was playing outside her home, where she felt safe.”
The heart-rending cry of Harmoney’s mother, screaming “Oh my God, oh my God, my baby,” alerted neighbors to the tragedy, a phrase that no parent should ever have to utter. A neighbor shared their sentiment: “I just wish I could hug the mother right now. I wish that she knew that there are tons of people out here praying for her tonight.”
Another resident close by expressed compassion not only for Harmoney’s family but also for the bus driver, adding: “I can only imagine what the bus driver is feeling. To hear the mother screaming ‘oh my god, oh my god,’ it just broke my heart.” Law enforcement authorities have indicated that they do not foresee pursuing any charges related to the incident.
In the wake of the devastating loss of their daughter, Harmoney’s family initiated a GoFundMe campaign to assist with the expenses of her funeral. The campaign description appealed: “If you are unable to make a donation, please leave prayers and encouraging words for this family.” At the time of writing, the campaign had garnered 650 donations, totaling $30,031.
In the days following the young girl’s passing, members of the Wichita, Kansas community shared their personal interactions with Harmoney. Oaklawn Elementary Principal Donna Osborn celebrated Harmoney, describing her as “full of compliments for everyone around her.” She further reflected, “Any time you would see her, she had a smile on her face and was always the first to give everyone a hug each day. Her passing is a tremendous loss, and Harmoney will be missed greatly at Oaklawn.”
Superintendent Heather Bohaty also expressed her grief over the young girl’s passing. She conveyed, “We are heartbroken by the loss of one of our students,” and noted that “students and staff will be supported by additional social workers from schools across our district” as they navigate their grieving process.
Our heartfelt condolences and sympathies extend to Harmoney’s family and friends during this heartrending period.