(ROCHESTER, Indiana) — A 24-year-old Indiana woman who struck four children with her pickup truck, killing three of them, as they crossed a rural highway to their school bus, has been found guilty of reckless homicide.
Alyssa Shepherd was also found guilty of criminal recklessness in the Oct. 30, 2018, crash, which shined a light on issues of school bus safety.
Shepherd testified Friday that she saw blinking lights but failed to see a school bus or a red stop sign arm when she plowed into 6-year-old twin brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle, and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl, as they crossed the highway to board the bus from the mobile home park where they lived, near Rochester, Indiana. All three children died, while Maverik Lowe, 11, was injured in critical condition.
Lowe, who entered the courtroom Wednesday using a walker, testified that he saw the headlights of an approaching vehicle as he crossed the road toward the bus. He recalled having only a couple of second to decide what to do.
“I decided to go forward,” he said, at which point he was struck. He remembered struggling to breath as he lay in a ditch before rescuers had him airlifted him to a hospital, where he spend 30 days and ultimately underwent 21 surgeries.
Shepherd, in her testimony, said she dropped her husband at work and was on her way to drop her kids at school and welcome a new youth pastor to church when she came upon a large vehicle, according to South Bend, Indiana, ABC affiliate WBND.
“I saw a vehicle, it was a very large vehicle. I couldn’t tell what it was,” Shepherd told the court, saying that she assumed it was an oversized-load modular home.
“When I saw children I instantly knew it was a bus,” Shepherd said. She testified that doesn’t remember how she moved the steering wheel but said she did brake.
Her husband testified that Shepherd called him shortly after the accident.
“She was very hysterical. I couldn’t quite make out what was going on. I assumed she was in an accident,” he said.
The parents of the three children who were killed, Shane Ingle and Brittany Stahl, told ABC News following the accident that their loss was “more than what we can even express in words.”
“A parent never expects to bury their child,” the couple said in a statement. “Every night we go to sleep without their hugs and kisses. And every morning we wake up to reality and wishing it was just a dream. We miss them so much. Our lives are forever changed.”
Shepherd, who will be sentenced on Dec. 18, now faces up to 21 1/2 years in prison.
The crash led the Indiana legislature to increase statewide penalties for drivers who pass stopped school buses illegally.
Shortly after the accident, the supervisor of the local school district announced that the bus stop where the crash occurred would be relocated into the mobile home park where the victims lived.
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