ARLINGTON, Va. — The school bus driver in a crash that killed two children last spring was found not guilty of charges of reckless driving and failure to pay attention.
Pamela Sims, 38, told reporters outside the courtroom, “I know I didn’t do anything wrong.” Still, she said she hadn’t gotten a full night’s sleep since April 18, when the fatal accident occurred.
Sims was transporting elementary students to school that morning when a garbage truck traveling at about 40 mph struck the Arlington Public Schools bus at a busy intersection. The bus reportedly was waiting to make a left turn and was not moving.
Lilibeth Gomez, 9, died on impact, while 7-year-old Harrison Orosco was critically wounded and died a few days later in the hospital.
About a dozen other students were treated for minor injuries, and Sims and the truck driver were hospitalized with serious injuries.
Police said that both vehicles were over the yellow line dividing east- and west-bound lanes. The truck’s steel fork arm penetrated the interior of the bus and most likely caused the death of the two students.
Prosecutors alleged that Sims had been tired from working overnight in her second job at a grocery store and that she was distracted by activity in the bus before the accident. Defense countered that there was no evidence that any lack of sleep or distraction on Sims’ part caused the crash.
“It’s very difficult to convince anyone of reckless driving when the bus wasn’t moving,” John Keats, Sims’ attorney, told reporters.
Garbage truck driver James Wallace, 42, has also been charged with reckless driving. His trial is scheduled to begin April 3.