ROCHESTER — The National Transportation Safety Board has ruled that Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation is partially to blame in the fatal 2018 Rochester bus stop accident that killed three children and severely injured a fourth.
On Oct. 30, 2018, Alyssa Shepherd, 25, Rochester, was driving a Toyota Tacoma on SR 25 when she disregarded a school bus that had stopped to pick up students. Six-year-old twins Xzavier and Mason Ingle; and their sister, nine-year-old Alivia Stahl, died at the scene. Maverik Lowe, who was 11 at the time of the accident, was severely injured.
Shepherd was sentenced in December 2019 to four years in prison.
The NTSB determined the crash was caused by Shepherd’s failure to stop for the school bus, despite the bus’s activated and clearly visible warning lights and stop arm, as well as a roadway warning sign for an upcoming school bus stop.
But the report also determined that TVSC’s inadequate safety assessment of school bus routes, resulting in the prevalence of bus stops that required students to cross high-speed roadways to board a bus, contributed to the cause of the crash.
“There was also no clear policy established by Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation for school bus drivers to follow in determining when it was safe to signal students to cross a roadway to board a school bus,” read the report.
“When our school-aged children walk out the door to meet the school bus in the morning, parents have the right to know that everything possible is being done for their safety,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “This crash tells us that we can and should do more. While the school bus is still the safest way for students to travel to and from school, it is imperative that other drivers on the roads obey the law and stop for a school bus that is loading or unloading students.”
The school system later changed the bus route so it travels into the nearby mobile home park and stops there for pick-ups and drop-offs.