Driver who hit and killed 3 children told police 'the kids were right in front of her'
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WSBT) - There are more developments in a crash that killed three children at their bus stop.
Alyssa Shepherd is currently charged with three counts of reckless homicide and one count of passing a school bus when arm signal device is extended causing bodily injury. The prosecutor in the case said the current charges the possibility of a maximum of 19 years. She's set to appear in court Nov. 13. The prosecutor declined to go on camera, but did say this is an “unbelievable tragedy.”
Detectives spoke with three individuals: the driver of the truck, Shepherd, the driver of the school bus, and the person driving behind Shepherd.
Shepherd told police that she had dropped her husband off at work and had three children in the backseat of her car.
She told investigators she does not know how fast she was going, but said she typically is a slow driver, and that she wasn't in a hurry to get anywhere. She said she was on her way to drop her brother off at her mom's house, so he could get changed and go to school.
The detective testified that she said, "She came around that corner, she saw there was something with lights. She just knew there was something big and had lights. She did not recognize it immediately as a school bus. She said she was trying to figure out what it was."
She told officers she knows she dimmed her lights, because it had headlights but, "she couldn't make out what it was." The detective went on to testify that, "By the time she realized, the kids were right there in front of her."
Another witness who was driving behind Shepherd's truck told officers she saw the bus clearly.
The detective testified that she said, "She came around a corner and could tell there was a bus stop with all of its lights activated."
She said she started to slow down and realized the truck in front of her was not slowing down. She said that the truck’s headlights illuminated the children as they were crossing the road. She said she began to freak out, because she realized she was slowing down but that truck in front was not slowing down and not stopping.
The judge clarified that the witness driving behind Shepherd could unequivocally see the bus when she came around the corner.
The detective confirmed that and said, "Yes" and "She could clearly see it was a school bus."
The bus driver, Robert Reid, told investigators that he had driven this route for a couple of years.
He told the detectives he always made sure no vehicles were coming and then would wave the kids across the street. He told police he did see a vehicle "in the distance quite a ways away" but told the detective he "didn't have any reason to think they would blow the stop."
He told officers he went ahead and waved the kids across, but as they were crossing, he realized that vehicle was not stopping. He said at the last second, he "hit his horn but there was nothing he could do."
The school district has since moved the bus stop.