By Liz Shepherd
ROCHESTER — The grandparents of a teenager who was severely injured in an October 2018 accident while he was trying to board a school bus are seeking restitution from Alyssa Shepherd, the 27-year-old motorist who hit him with her vehicle.
Maverik Lowe was 11 years old on Oct. 30, 2018, when he was hit by Shepherd after she disregarded a Tippecanoe Valley school bus that had stopped to pick up students along SR 25, just north of Rochester.
Three children, six-year-old twins Xzavier and Mason Ingle; and their sister, nine-year-old Alivia Stahl, died at the scene. Lowe was severely injured in the accident and was flown from the scene.
Shepherd is currently incarcerated in the Rockville Correctional Facility, with her earliest possible release date being March 18, 2022.
Since then, Lowe, now 14, has undergone more than 20 surgeries, including a knee replacement.
Marlene and Andrew Pletcher, Lowe’s grandparents, attended a restitution hearing on Friday, Sept. 10, in Fulton Superior Court. Shepherd was not at the proceedings, having waived her right to be present in a physical or virtual manner. Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rachel Arndt represented the state; Shepherd was represented by Stacy Uliana, the attorney who represented her during her appeal process.
The Pletchers have had guardianship of Lowe since 2019. Lowe’s mother, Jocelynne Lowe, is currently incarcerated on drug charges.
During court proceedings, the Pletchers said all of the funds from a GoFundMe page created to cover Lowe’s medical expenses went to Jocelynne. They also said they were not involved in any civil suits with Tippecanoe Valley Schools or Shepherd.
The Pletchers were with Lowe from the day of the accident up to his release from the hospital. They argued that during that time, they incurred about $5,330 in lost wages, as well as $1,600 for hotel stays, and $500 in gas costs for taking Lowe to and from medical appointments.
Lowe’s grandparents also spent about $29,000 on a new vehicle with more room for Lowe to sit in. Following the accident, Lowe could not sit normally in a vehicle and had to have his injured leg fully extended. Andrew Fletcher said the backseat in their former vehicle was too narrow. If the seats were laid out, Lowe would not have had access to a seatbelt.
Arndt presented a summary of restitution amounts to the court for consideration. The amount, totaling $86,399.37, includes money that Lowe’s mother spent on a wheelchair-accessible home in Akron. Arndt argued that the Pletchers hadn’t received any type of financial compensation for the expenses they’ve incurred on Lowe’s behalf.
“They were not compensated, they were not part of the settlement, they were not part of the GoFundMe,” said Arndt.
Uliana focused on the state’s restitution statute, arguing that some expenses listed by the state did not apply to that. She agreed that the Pletchers are entitled to lost wages based on their testimonies, but said they were not entitled to be compensated for their hotel lodging and vehicle. Uliana also expressed confusion about the Lowe home being included in the restitution and said more testimony for that account was needed.
Fulton Superior Court Judge Gregory Heller asked Arndt and Uliana to each submit a short memo by Oct. 12 on their arguments and evidence. A decision as to whether the Pletchers will receive restitution for the costs they incurred as a result of Lowe’s accident was not made during Friday’s proceedings.