A now former Orange County bus driver had crashed a bus and injured 11 students. He allegedly passed out behind the wheel, which was the reason for the crash. According to an announcement made by prosecutors on Friday, the man could face 19 years in prison as a result of his actions on the road.
Gerald Douglas Rupple, age 25, was driving for the Orange Unified School District. He was driving on April 24, 2014 at approximately 50 miles per hour. He then blacked out, according to sources. The Ajo, Arizona native had a medical condition that led to blackouts, dizziness, and even seizures. He failed to report this condition to the school district prior to the start of his employment.
All 11 of the students on the bus from the El Rancho Charter Middle School were injured. The bus hit multiple trees, which caused the bus to shift to the side. The students suffered from broken bones and one student had significant spine injuries. Additionally, one student required a toe to be amputated, according to the authorities.
Rupple is being accused of failing to disclose medical problems upon being hired. The physician who conducted the required driver fitness exam was not told about his medical condition. Had Rupple told the physician, it likely would have had an impact on his ability to be hired as a school bus driver.
Rupple has been charged with a felony count of abuse and endangerment for each child on the bus, perjury by declaration as well as a sentence enhancement due to the great bodily injury that was caused.
The man was arrested in Arizona on Thursday. He is being brought back into Orange County, which are the ones responsible for investigating the case. Rupple will be held on a $100,000 bail, as reported by the prosecutors for the case.
Bus accidents are unfortunately more common than the average person realizes. Each year, there are hundreds of accidents throughout the state of California and they have been known to result in injuries as well as death.
It was unclear as to where the accident took place in Orange County, though there are a number of busy routes, especially along I-80. When the bus driver lost control of the bus upon passing out, the situation could have been much worse. It hit a few trees where the 11 passengers were injured as opposed to going into oncoming traffic which could have taken out multiple other vehicles and resulted in the death of the students.
Rupple will await a trial where he will then have to plead his case. 11 felony counts of abuse and endangerment is considerable, especially when looking at some of the other charges he is also facing.
Those who have been injured in a bus accident are encouraged to speak with a licensed attorney. Medical expenses can be costly. Those who fail to pursue compensation can be left to pay these bills out of pocket. Call (800) 838-6644 to obtain a free consultation for accidents that have occurred within California.