ROCHESTER, Ind. — The motorist who was allegedly involved in a fatal school bus passing incident on Tuesday reportedly told investigators that she didn’t see the bus or the students until it was too late to stop.
As SBF previously reported, Alyssa Shepherd is accused of illegally passing a school bus, killing three students and seriously injuring one other student. She was arrested on Tuesday and received three felony charges for reckless homicide and a misdemeanor count for passing a school bus with the stop arm extended, causing injury.
Michelle Jumper, a detective for the Indiana State Police, interviewed Shepherd; Robert Reid, school bus driver for Tippecanoe Valley School Corp.; and a witness, according to Indianapolis Star. (The court provided the newspaper on Thursday with audio recording of the probable cause hearing in Fulton County Court on Tuesday.) In that hearing, Jumper testified that Shepherd said she drove around a corner and saw "something [that was] big and had lights," Jumper said. “She did not recognize it in any way as a school bus."
Jumper also said that Shepherd had three children in the back seat of her car, had dropped off her husband at work at about 7:05 a.m., and was driving to her mother’s home in the Rochester area to drop off her brother when she drove around the bend in the road, according to the newspaper.
A witness told Jumper that she was driving a vehicle behind Shepherd’s through the bend on State Road 25, that she and Shepherd were traveling at 45 miles per hour, and that she slowed down when she saw the school bus and its flashing lights, which she said were clearly visible, Jumper testified. Jumper also said that the witness told her that “the truck's headlights illuminated the children as they were crossing the road and she said she started to freak out as she realized 'I'm slowing down, but that truck in front of me is not slowing,'" Indianapolis Star reports.
Reid, the school bus driver, told Jumper that he stopped at the same place where he always picks up the students, and that he told investigators that he saw headlights coming from around the bend in the road, but they were far away and he had time to slow down, so he waved to the students to cross the road. He also said, Jumper testified, that he honked the horn when it was apparent that the truck wasn’t going to stop, according to the newspaper.
Meanwhile, Blaine Conley, superintendent for Tippecanoe Valley School Corp., posted a statement on the district’s Facebook page that said that the district relocated the bus stop where the incident occurred as of Thursday. He also said in the statement that he is establishing a transportation safety review committee to examine all of the district’s bus stop locations “to ensure our children are transported safely.”