Boy killed after getting off school bus remembered by family

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Brandon Heard, Jr. was a popular kid. Everyone who met the 11-year-old middle school student liked him.

But no one will miss him more than his family, who are grief-stricken after he was hit and killed by a car Thursday evening.

"He was life to everybody," said his aunt, Shante Baldwin.

A balloon now marks the spot at Orient and 29th Avenue E. where he was hit by a passing car after getting off the bus from Mann Middle School. 

Eighteen hours later, his family gathered at their home, a block away.

"The whole neighborhood, anywhere he goes, anybody gets attached to him," said Baldwin.

Indeed, students at Mann Middle drew tributes to him, after an announcement was made on the loudspeaker that he wouldn't be coming back.

"You want to see students flourish and grow up to do great things," said principal Barbara Fillhart. "It's at a young age that he won't be with us anymore."

His pleasant demeanor was complimented by excellence in school, for which he will be honored by the National Junior Honor Society March 26.

"He had very good grades and he will be an honorary member," said Fillhart.

The suddenness of it all is hardest to deal with.

"The bus driver followed all procedures putting the stop arm out," said Hillsborough County School District Spokeswoman Tanya Arja. "There were several kids who tried to cross the street at that time."

The district says Brandon tried to cross several minutes later after the bus left about 4:45 p.m. 

The driver who hit him stayed at the scene cooperated with investigators. Witnesses said she was beside herself. She is not being ticketed.

Brandon's parents say they will cling to their memories of the boy they say was the best dancer in the house.

"He is in my heart, he is in me, he is a part of me. I am going to always remember him."

Brandon wanted to be an engineer when he grew up.