A Lancaster man was convicted Wednesday of all charges for causing a multi-vehicle crash a year ago in East Lampeter Township that tipped a school bus carrying 14 students.
James P. Irvin III, 47, was charged with making an illegal pass on Lincoln Highway East, near Route 896, and striking a vehicle that triggered the crash. A school bus carrying Lancaster Mennonite School students tipped; two students inside were seriously injured.
On Wednesday in Lancaster County Court, Judge Howard Knisely returned guilty verdicts to 68 counts, including nine felony counts of aggravated assault, aggravated assault by vehicle, and hit-and-run.
Assistant District Attorneys Travis S. Anderson and Trista Boyd presented testimony at the non-jury trial of Irvin’s driving and his subsequent fleeing from the crash scene in a white Chevy Malibu – which happened as Irvin was driving on a suspended license. Irvin was arrested about a week later.
At the verdict, Judge Knisely raised bail to a combined $300,000 cash. Irvin was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom by deputy sheriffs.
Judge Knisely will order sentence in about three months, following a background check.
While asking for a bail increase, Anderson told the judge that Irvin’s guidelines on the most serious charge start at four years’ incarceration, thus making him a potential flight risk.
“The defendant admitted to fleeing the scene of this crime… because he was afraid he’d be caught,” Anderson said.
The bus driver, Timothy Weber, testified during trial about the May 17, 2017, crash which, he said, left him hanging from his seatbelt with the bus on its side.
Weber said he noticed the white Malibu’s erratic driving – and thought, “What kind of an idiot is this to be doing this?” – prior to hearing two “bangs” and the bus tipping.
“I said, ‘Oh no. Oh Lord no.’ Then we went over,” Weber testified.
Weber became emotional when talking about seeing the 6-year-old boy pinned under the bus.
“I asked God why,” Weber said of the 6-year-old. “It wasn’t a good sight… All I could see were his little legs and arms.”
The boy sustained numerous injuries, including a fractured clavicle, a lacerated spleen, and rib fractures. A 16-year-old boy sustained a fractured vertebra. Nine other students sustained less-serious injuries.
Several students watched the trial from the courtroom gallery.
East Lampeter Township police Sgt. Bryan Kondras, who filed charges, presented a reconstruction of the crash, which showed:
- The Malibu was traveling east on Route 30 and was in a right turning lane (at the Route 896 intersection), but instead of turning, sped straight through the intersection, passing vehicles, including an oversized load tractor-trailer. A second oversized load rig and escort vehicle were just ahead of the first set.
- The Malibu passed from the right turn lane, across the eastbound lane and center turn-only lane, and into the westbound lane, where the school bus approached from.
- The Malibu was traveling about 70 mph before impact.
Among the misdemeanor charges Irvin was convicted of were numerous counts of simple assault, hit-and-run, and reckless endangerment.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; email@example.com; Twitter: @BrettHambright