LANCASTER, Pa. — A motorist here will serve up to 20 years in prison after he was convicted in a hit-and-run crash that injured more than a dozen students on a school bus last year.
On Friday, a Lancaster County judge sentenced 48-year-old James Irvin III to a prison term of five to 20 years. In May of this year, Irvin was convicted of 68 charges, including aggravated assault and hit-and-run, in connection with the May 2017 crash in East Lampeter Township.
Judge Howard Knisely reportedly said that Irvin showed “no regard” for anyone on the road when he drove 71 mph, while accelerating, during an illegal pass that caused a chain-reaction crash, in which a school bus with 14 Lancaster Mennonite School students tipped onto its side.
The judge also pointed to Irvin’s poor driving record since 1988 and scolded him for driving without a license since 2006. As part of his sentence, Irvin is prohibited from driving during the period of supervision.
The school bus driver and all of the students on the bus received medical treatment. Irvin allegedly fled in a white Chevy Malibu, and he was arrested six days later.
According to a press release from the Lancaster County district attorney, parents of two children who were seriously injured expressed forgiveness for Irvin at Friday’s hearing. One father offered to visit Irvin in prison to discuss the grace of God.
Irvin “must seek forgiveness to get it,” Don Cairns said, after describing the fractured vertebrae and other injuries his son sustained.
Sheri Weaver, mother of the 6-year-old boy who was most seriously hurt in the crash, said her son has taken steps in recovery, but she must apply lotion daily to the boy’s many scars.
Regarding Irvin, Sheri Weaver said, “We don’t hate him. We will pray for him.”
The parents thanked the first responders who rushed to the scene and a truck driver who acted quickly, using his jack to pry the bus off of the 6-year-old boy, who was pinned underneath.
During the hearing on Friday, Irvin reportedly offered an apology and acknowledged that he “made a lot of mistakes. I really don’t have any excuse.”
Assistant District Attorney Trista Boyd pointed to Irvin’s “repeated selfish and reckless actions” that caused the crash. Boyd said Irvin has shown no remorse, which the judge agreed with, and the prosecutor asked for a sentence that would serve as a deterrent not only to Irvin, but to all reckless drivers.
Also, Assistant District Attorney Travis Anderson read a statement from a parent who had three daughters on the school bus that day: “This is not an event you want your child to experience, and now become a piece of their history.”