The Indiana woman who struck four children last year, killing three, was found guilty on three charges of felony reckless homicide.
Alyssa Shepherd, 25, of Rochester, Indiana, was found guilty on Oct. 18 after two-and-a-half hours of deliberating, during which Shepherd was also found guilty of one count of criminal recklessness and one count of driving around a school bus with a stop arm extended.
Three of the four children Shepherd struck were killed as they crossed State Road 25 in Rochester to board their school bus on Oct. 30, 2018.
Authorities said the bus driver pulled to the side of State Route 25 in Fulton County around 7:15 a.m. and activated the flashing lights and the stop arm seen on buses across the country.
Three children, all siblings, were killed in the tragic incident—twins Xzavier and Mason Ingle, 6, and their sister Alivia Stahl, 9. A fourth child, 11-year-old Maverik Lowe, was flown to a hospital to undergo emergency surgery.
Police officers said that Shepherd ignored the bus’s lights and stop arm and tried to speed past the vehicle when she hit the children.
A witness, Maggie Jo Wilson, who was driving directly behind Shepherd, said she was traveling at about 45 miles per hour—10 miles per hour under the speed limit—when her pickup struck them.
Shepherd was arrested at her workplace in Rochester on Oct. 30 at around 4 p.m. and was released shortly afterwards on a $15,000 bond.
On Oct. 18, the fourth day of Shepherd’s testimony, she told the jury she had just dropped her husband off and was taking her children to school and was on her way to welcome a new youth pastor to church when she noticed a large vehicle, adding that she did not immediately recognize what it was.
She initially thought the vehicle was an oversize load or modular home, reported ABC 57 .
“When I saw children I instantly knew it was a bus,” Shepherd testified.
She said she braked, but does not remember which direction she moved the steering wheel in, adding that she only saw a curve sign, not a bus stop sign.
Shepherd then she rang her husband and her friend Brittany Thompson after failing to get through to 911.
She said she got out from her pickup but went back in after seeing a man with an “intimidating face.”
“It was extremely dark. I noticed there were red blinking lights,” Shepherd testified. “I did not see the school bus. There were so many lights on the vehicle I couldn’t tell what it was.”
Both Shepherd’s husband Neil and her friend Thompson testified on Oct. 18 saying they received phone calls from the 25-year-old.
“She was very hysterical. I couldn’t quite make out what was going on. I assumed she was in an accident,” Neil said.
Thompson said that Shepherd phoned her screaming.
“She was screaming that she didn’t know it was a bus. You could tell she was going in and out of shock,” Thompson testified.
In total, Shepherd faces a maximum of up to 21.5 years behind bars. Her sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 18 at 1 p.m, and she will remain free on bail until then.
On July 1, a bill became state law to ensure that individuals who pass a school bus with a stop arm out can face up to one year behind bars and a fine of up to $5,000.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.