Brandon Kruggel was an exceptional math student in Grade 2, loved playing hockey, and had many friends in his new home in the southern Alberta hamlet of Millarville, even though he had only lived there for a year.

As he was boarding his bus to Millarville Community School yesterday morning with his older sister and younger brother, a teenage driver allegedly failed to adhere to the bus’ flashing lights and struck the seven-year-old, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

“He was really nice and polite, and really smart,” said his classmate Nolan Lowry on the verge of tears.

According to RCMP Sgt. Patrick Webb, the driver exited the bus, went down into the ditch where Kruggel had landed and tried to administer first aid.

The accident has shaken up members of the small community where Kruggel lived.

“What a tragedy, on both sides — both for the family and the driver of the car,” said Terry Backs, whose 11-year-old daughter Karlee attended school with Kruggel.

“Karlee was supposed to have basketball tonight, which obviously was cancelled. It was a very sad day at the school today.”

Several counsellors are going to be on-site at the school to provide support for as long as they’re needed, Foothills School Division Supt. Jim McLellan said.

Tiffani Williams said the accident happened down the street from where her parents live.

“This is one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard,” the 19-year-old said. “Especially since the driver of the car was only 17 years old. It just goes to show that kids need to be more educated about this kind of thing.”

There were about 11 other students on the bus, said McLellan. He also noted that this is the first school bus-related fatality in the division’s history, and the site where Kruggel was struck is not a high-risk area.