A former school bus driver who officials say passed out while taking a group of kids home and crashed into a tree is facing felony child abuse and endangerment as a well ad perjury charges in connection with a school bus crash in Anaheim Hills on April 24, 2014.
According to a news report in the Orange County Register, 25-year-old Gerald Douglas Rupple, was arrested this week in connection with
the school bus accident that left Rupple and 11 El Rancho Charter Middle School Students injured.
Driver Hid Health Condition
Prosecutors say Rupple was diving at about 50 mph when he passed out behind the wheel causing the bus to veer onto an embankment off Nohl Ranch Road and strike a tree and lamppost. Many of the students were thrown from their seats.
Rupple was pulled out from the bus unconscious. Four children suffered major injuries in the crash including fractured bones, brain bleed, shattered spine and toe amputation. Students said Rupple looked sick that day.
California Highway Patrol officials said Rupple lied to the Orange Unified School District and concealed his medical condition from them. He also failed to disclose his medical issue to a physician who was examining him.
Officials did not say precisely what that medical condition. They only said it causes dizziness, seizures and blackouts. Rupple has been a part-time bus driver since 2007 when he was only 18 and went full-time in 2010. If convicted of all charges, he faces up to 19 years in state prison.
A Sacred Responsibility
Driving a school bus is a sacred responsibility. A school bus driver is entrusted with the lives of precious children, who are dependent on the bus to get them to and from school. If the allegations are true, then, the families of the injured children can hold both the driver and his employer civilly liable for the injuries and damages caused.
The school district has the responsibility to perform background checks including health exams to ensure that their drivers have the skills and abilities to transport children safely.
In such cases, it is important to look into whether the school district or the bus driver’s employer was negligent in the hiring of the driver with the medical condition.
As Orange County personal injury lawyers who represent seriously injured accident victims, we also urge all schools in the county and state to invest in seatbelts for all their school buses.
If our children need to buckled up in cars, the same needs to happen in school buses. A number of serious injuries in this crash could have been avoided had the children worn seatbelts.