Safety

NTSB Releases Final Report on Fatal Indiana School Bus Crash

Nicole Schlosser
Posted on April 21, 2020
The NTSB's final report concludes that the probable cause of the 2018 Indiana crash in which three students were killed was a motorist’s failure to stop for their school bus. A contributing factor was the school district’s inadequate route safety assessment. Photo courtesy Indiana State Police
The NTSB's final report concludes that the probable cause of the 2018 Indiana crash in which three students were killed was a motorist’s failure to stop for their school bus. A contributing factor was the school district’s inadequate route safety assessment. Photo courtesy Indiana State Police

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released on Tuesday the final report on its investigation into the fatal 2018 crash in Indiana in which a motorist failed to stop for a school bus.

The NTSB’s report concluded that the probable cause of the Oct. 30, 2018, Rochester, Ind., crash, which killed three students and injured one other, was the failure of Alyssa Shepherd, who was driving a pickup truck, to stop for the school bus, according to the board’s website. Shepherd did not stop the truck despite the bus’s activated and clearly visible warning lights and stop arm, as well as a roadway warning sign for an upcoming school bus stop.

As School Bus Fleet previously reported, Shepherd struck four students, killing 6-year-old twins Xzavier and Mason Ingle and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl, and seriously injuring an 11-year-old boy, later identified as Maverick Lowe. None of the occupants of the pickup truck or others waiting for the bus were injured.

Contributing to the cause of the crash, according to the final report, was the Tippecanoe Valley School Corp.’s:

• Inadequate safety assessment of school bus routes, resulting in the prevalence of bus stops that required student pedestrians to cross a 55 mph roadway to board a bus, increasing the risk of injury during a collision.
• Failure to establish a clear policy regarding surrounding traffic for school bus drivers to follow in determining when it was safe to signal students to cross a roadway to board a school bus.

As a result of the investigation, SBF reported on April 7 when the NTSB released the abstract of the report, the board issued a total of 12 safety recommendations. The recommendations address safety issues including deficiencies in establishing safe school bus routes, failure of other drivers to stop or respond safely when approaching a stopped school bus, and a need for greater use of technologies to prevent collisions and mitigate injuries. Read the full report here.

As SBF previously reported, Shepherd was convicted in October of felony reckless homicide, as well as of a felony count of criminal recklessness, and a misdemeanor count for passing a school bus causing injury when the stop arm is extended. She was sentenced in December to four years in prison and three years of house arrest, three years of probation, and her driver’s license was suspended for 10 years. She is appealing her conviction.

Related Topics: fatalities, Indiana, NTSB, routing, school bus crash, stop-arm running/illegal passing

Nicole Schlosser Executive Editor
Comments ( 2 )
  • Ned Einstein

     | about 2 months ago

    Tragic as this incident was, and apparently the fault of the truck driver, the decedent's parents will likely try to sue the school district as well. And in many states (because of the formula for allocating damages under a doctrine known as "joint and severally"), a codefendant which is even 1% at fault "holds he bag" for the remainder of the damages which the party largely or near-fully at fault does not have the insurance to cover. I have helped defend many school districts and contractors in similar situations (and have one active case now -- slowed by the virus). Like everyone in our community, I find this tragedy painful, personally. But the school district itself has much to do, and much to worry about. Hope this warning is helpful and heeded.

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