A cell-phone video captures the 13-year-old boy's screams for help as he's pummeled with fists and kicked by three bigger, older youths who "ganged up" on him as he was about to get off at his bus stop.
The black teens beat the white sixth-grader for roughly a minute before opening the emergency-exit door and fleeing the bus.
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As the relentless assault unfolds, the bus driver John Moody yells at the teens to leave the boy alone. He also asks dispatchers to send help.
"You gotta get somebody here quick, quick, quick, quick," he urged. "They're about to beat this boy to death over here."
Moody added, "Please get somebody here quick. There's still doing it. There's nothing I can do."
Moody, 64, said he was too afraid to physically intervene. And according to Lealman Intermediate School's policy, he is only required to call dispatch.
"The three boys just jumped on him and started pounding on him. And I did all I can," he told WFLA-TV. "I was looking. It was like I was in shock. I was petrified."
The attack took place July 9 in Pinellas County, Fla., but the horrific cell-phone video – and a bus surveillance video – came to light only recently.
Prosecutors say they have no grounds on which to charge the bus driver with a crime.
"It wasn't like he was looking out the window cleaning his fingernails or something like that," Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett told the TV station.
But police said Moody could have at least given first aid to the victim after the attackers fled through the vehicle's emergency-exit door.
"There was clearly an opportunity for him to intervene and or check on the welfare of the children or the child in this case and he didn't make any effort to do so," Chief Robert Vincent of Gulfport Police Department told WFLA-TV.
Police say the youths attacked the victim after he told officials at their drop-out prevention school that one of them had tried to sell him drugs.
The victim suffered two black eyes and a broken arm.
Joshua Reddin, Julian McKnight and Lloyd Khemradj, all 15-years-old, were arrested soon after bolting from the bus.
All three assailants are charged with aggravated battery. Reddin is also charged with unarmed robbery for taking the victim's money after the beating.
Moody, who retired from his bus-driving job two weeks after the attack, said he's still haunted by it and has suffered sleepless nights.
"I wanted to help him so bad," he said. "I wanted to help him."