A Lancaster man who caused a multi-vehicle crash last year that tipped a school bus carrying 14 students will serve up to 20 years in prison.
Lancaster County Judge Howard Knisely sentenced James P. Irvin III, 48, to 5 to 20 years in prison regarding his conviction on 68 charges from the May 17, 2017, crash on Route 30 in East Lampeter Township.
Judge Knisely said Irvin showed “no regard” for anyone on the road when he drove 71 mph, while accelerating, during an illegal pass which caused the chain-reaction crash that led to a bus with Lancaster Mennonite School students tipping onto its side.
Judge Knisely pointed to Irvin’s poor driving record since 1988 and scolded Irvin for driving without a license since 2006 – driving 400 miles a week in recent years.
As part of sentence, Irvin is prohibited from driving during the period of supervision.
All students and the bus driver received medical treatment. Irvin fled in a white Chevy Malibu; he was arrested six days later.
Parents of the two children most seriously injured expressed forgiveness for Irvin at Friday’s hearing – one father offered to visit Irvin in prison to discuss the grace of God.
Irvin “must seek forgiveness to get it,” Don Cairns said, after describing the fractured vertebrae and other injuries his son sustained.
Sheri Weaver, mother of the 6-year-old boy most seriously hurt in the crash, said her son has taken steps in recovery, but she must apply lotion daily to the boy’s many scars.
When people see the boy’s apparent scar on his face, “the bubbly extrovert” becomes shy, Sheri Weaver said.
“We don’t hate him,” Sheri Weaver said of Irvin. “We will pray for him.”
The parents thanked the first-responders who rushed to the scene and a truck driver who quickly acted in using his jack to pry the bus off the 6-year-old boy, who was pinned underneath.
Irvin was convicted in May at a non-jury trial before Judge Knisely of 68 charges, including counts of aggravated assault and hit-and-run. Assistant District Attorneys Travis S. Anderson and Trista Boyd presented testimony, including from East Lampeter Township police Sgt. Bryan Kondras, lead investigator.
Irvin offered an apology Friday, saying, “I wasn’t raised to end up here.”
“I know I made a lot of mistakes,” he added. “I really don’t have any excuse.”
Irvin’s father also spoke, and started discussing his son’s lack of malice in the crash – before Judge Knisely intervened.
“There is malice,” the judge said sternly. “Malice has been established, as a result of trial.”
Later in the hearing, Judge Knisely peered at Irvin’s family while discussing Irvin’s lack of a license yet continuance to drive with a car registered to and insured by the parents.
Before Judge Knisely ordered sentence, Assistant District Attorney Boyd pointed to Irvin’s “repeated selfish and reckless actions” which caused the crash.
Boyd said Irvin has shown no remorse, which the judge agreed with.
Boyd asked for a sentence that serves as a deterrent not only to Irvin, but to all reckless drivers.
In an eloquent statement from a parent who had three daughters on the bus that day, Assistant District Attorney Anderson read: “This is not an event you want your child to experience, and now become a piece of their history.”
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