School bus driver not charged in principal’s death

Posted on February 12, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS — Prosecutors announced that the school bus driver involved in a recent crash that killed a school principal will not face criminal charges.

A police report stated that on Jan. 26, bus driver Christine Beeler left the driver’s seat of the bus without engaging the parking brake, causing the bus to roll forward. Susan Jordan, the principal of Amy Beverland Elementary School, was supervising the school’s dismissal at the time. The bus, which had been stationary, suddenly accelerated and jumped the curb, injuring two 10-year-old students and killing Jordan.

As previously reported, an inspection of the bus on the scene did not find any mechanical defects.

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office completed a review of the police investigation of the incident, and Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Terry Curry said his office determined that the evidence does not warrant criminal charges against Beeler.

“This tragic accident and the loss of Principal Susan Jordan has impacted many in our local community and in the education community nationwide,” Curry said. “Our sympathy goes to the family, friends, and extended network of students, parents and educators who knew Mrs. Jordan.”

Curry added that the decision not to file criminal charges was based on several considerations after review of all evidence gathered from the crash investigation, including absence of impairment of the driver and video of the incident. The investigation found that no alcohol or controlled substances were detected in the blood sample taken from the driver.

Curry also said that Indiana law is clear that, in the absence of impairment, mere negligence does not give rise to a crime. Prior to the accident, Beeler disengaged the parking brake and moved the shifter into the “Forward” position. Unable to leave due to the location of another bus beside her, it appears that Beeler tried to make contact with Jordan when she stood up from her seat without moving the shifter into neutral or reengaging the parking brake. The bus began to move when Beeler stood, and she was unable to stop the bus prior to the accident.

As previously reported, Beeler’s employers said she has no disciplinary history.

Related Topics: distracted driving, fatalities, Indiana, school bus crash

Comments ( 3 )
  • Darrin Smith

     | about 4 years ago

    While this is an incredibly tragic accident it does shed light on the weakness of the law. If there is no impairment, that means anyone driving distracted would never be punished criminally for negligence. If someone was texting and driving while plowing into a group of people it would not be criminal. Something for all states to look at (not just Indiana). Thoughts are with the families and community.

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