An Indiana woman has been found guilty of three counts of felony reckless homicide for plowing into three siblings when she failed to stop for a school bus’ flashing lights.
Alyssa Shepherd, 25, was found guilty Friday for causing the deaths of Alivia Stahl, 9 and her two 6-year-old twin brothers, Mason and Xzavier Ingle on a rural two lane highway, just one day before Halloween. A fourth child, now 12-year-old Maverik Lowe, was also struck by Shepherd’s pickup during the incident. He suffered multiple broken bones and was initially hospitalized in critical condition but survived.
“And today the system worked, just like we thought it would. We only wanted a fair trial," the slain children’s grandfather, Michael Schwab, told WNDU-TV, an outlet in South Bend, Indiana, Friday.
The children’s mother Brittany Ingle echoed that sentiment.
"We finally have her held accountable for her actions, so we are relieved," she told the outlet.
Shepherd told police last year that she had seen the flashing emergency lights of the bus as it stopped to pick up the four children on the Fulton County highway, but she claimed she didn't know it was a school bus. Detectives have long maintained that there was no way she couldn’t have known. Shepherd also passed a “watch for school bus” sign before hitting the kids, WBST reports.
During the trial, Shepherd told jurors that she was crying, having an out of body experience and that she was “a mess” at the time of the crash. She also testified that she initially thought the school bus was either a tractor or a modular home.
Witnesses said she did not slow down until she hit the children. There were no skid marks found at the scene, local outlet WBST reports. Shepherd’s brother and three children were in the pickup with her at the time of the crash, WSBT reported.
"The biggest thing with it is the total lack of braking, the amount of distance that was covered, and seeing something on the roadway on a Tuesday morning when it's school time, and just barreling right into it and not slowing down,” prosecutor Michael Marrs told WNDU. “We felt like that was unacceptable.”
The children’s mother testified that when she arrived on scene and discovered that her children were dead, she ran towards Shepherd’s truck before being put in an ambulance.
“I saw blood running from underneath her,” the mother said during emotional testimony about finding her daughter dead, WBST reports.
Brittany Ingle noted that Shepherd showed little emotion during her testimony.
“I was crying telling them how I found my sons in the road and she had no remorse, no emotion, just cold and that hurt worse,’ she told WNDU.
Lowe, who had to spend a month in the hospital after being hit and has had 21 surgeries since, used a walker to testify last week against the woman who hit him.
He said he remembered seeing bright lights while crossing the road.
“I remember waking up and rolling myself over because I couldn’t breathe,” he testified, according to WSBT.
Shepherd faces up to 21 and a half years in prison. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 18.
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