Tanya Yates and her children Lorylai, left, Tyrrell, Darrnel and Nataley visit the makeshift memorial to 6-year-old Jayce Holt in Rumford on Thursday. Yates said her children go to Rumford Elementary School, where Holt was a student. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

A photograph of Jayce Holt is placed at a makeshift memorial Thursday. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

RUMFORD — Police have identified the 6-year-old bicyclist killed Wednesday in an accident with a school bus as Jayce Holt.

The Rumford Police Department said in a statement Thursday that Holt was riding his bicycle on a sidewalk along Waldo Street.

“It is believed he was interacting in some way with a subject on the bus while riding,” police said, adding Holt was not wearing a helmet.

Holt left the sidewalk and entered the crosswalk, crossing Essex Avenue.

Holt “did not recognize the bus was turned left off Waldo Street (northbound) onto Essex Avenue (westbound) until it was too late,” police said.

Holt did not have time to stop his bicycle, and he and the bicycle fell, went under the school bus and were struck by the left rear dual tires, police said.

The bus driver was identified as Stephen Arsenault, 51, of Dixfield. There were four other students on the bus. Neither Arsenault nor the students were injured, police said.

The crash remained under investigation Thursday by the Rumford Police Department and Maine State Police.

Arsenault has a clean driving history for at least the past 10 years, according to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

State records indicate Arsenault obtained his passenger bus permit and school bus permit in 2013, and has had no accidents, speeding tickets or other infractions since at least 2009.

According to RSU 10 Superintendent Deborah Alden, Arsenault has been driving a bus for the district for the past 10 years.

“He is taking some time, as of course he is devastated and getting support from us,” she said.

The intersection where the accident occurred is about two blocks from Holt’s school.

Western Foothills School District officials said the boy was a first-grader at Rumford Elementary School.

“Our entire RSU 10 community is grieving this loss,” according to a written statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. As with any accident of this kind, there is an ongoing, thorough investigation. We are fully cooperating in this process. This tragedy is far-reaching throughout our communities.”

The child’s mother was on the scene immediately, Police Chief Stacy Carter said Wednesday.

A makeshift memorial with candles and stuffed animals has been assembled near the scene of the accident.

Rumford Elementary Principal Jill Bartash posted a statement on the school’s Facebook page, saying classes would be held Thursday but a Family Fun Night had been postponed. Counselors will be available at the school to support students and staff, she said.

A photo showing Jayce Holt and his mother is placed at a memorial near where the boy was killed Wednesday in an accident with a school bus while he was riding his bike. Portland Press Herald photo by Shawn Ouellette

“We know that the days ahead will be difficult for our entire community,” Bartash said. “Know that all staff will work to support kiddos in the days ahead.”

According to Alden, “thoughts and prayers have come to our community from as far as Massachusetts.”

“Neighboring districts have lent us resources and community members have provided food, flowers and support,” Alden said. “We can’t thank them enough. Our hearts remain heavy for all affected by this tragic accident.

At the National Day of Prayer observance Thursday in Rumford, members of the Praise Assembly of God Church gathered in Veterans Memorial Park, where prayers were offered for Holt and Arsenault.

Holt, his mother and a sibling had recently moved into a new apartment in Rumford. Elissa Dyer from that building has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for Holt’s funeral expenses. By midafternoon Thursday, more than $3,000 had been raised toward the $3,500 goal.

Rumford Falls Times Editor Bruce Farrin contributed to this report.

Jayce Holt’s basketball coach, William Kelley, gives Bernadette Quarantiello a hug near where Holt, 6, was killed Wednesday in an accident with a school bus in Rumford. Kelley said Holt played basketball at the Greater Rumford Community Center. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

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