Three siblings were killed instantly Tuesday morning after being struck by a woman as they tried to board their bus to school.
Indiana State Police said the crash occurred 7:15 a.m. Tuesday morning after a school bus stopped in front of a mobile home park to pick up children for school, a statement from police said.
The driver of the bus, Robert Reid, 46, activated the buses' stop arm and had the exterior lights flashing, but as the children were crossing the road to get onto the bus, a 2017 Toyota Tacoma driven by Alyssa Shepherd, 24, struck the children, and they died at the scene.
The family of 6-year-old twins Xzavier and Mason Ingle and their 9-year-old sister Alivia Stahl are now left grappling with the sudden and horrific loss.
"[Their father] didn't lose one kid, he lost all of his kids," Elgin Ingle, the kids’ uncle, told Indiana news station WNDU. "What do you tell your little brother, how do you tell your little brother it's going to get better? You can't."
Their father came to the scene to identify them, police said.
A fourth child, 11-year-old Maverik Lowe — who was not related to the family — was airlifted to a hospital with multiple broken bones and other injuries, according to WNDU.
"Our hearts just break for the families involved here in this tragic situation, and our prayers obviously go out to them," Sgt. Tony Slocum, a public information officer for the Indiana State Police, told ABC News. "It was a tough day to watch the emotions that these family members had to go through and a tough day for first responders. It's been a while since I've seen first responders cry, but I saw some tears shed today because that's what the situation dictated."
Police arrested Shepherd on Tuesday afternoon after they said she failed to come to a halt while the bus was stopped. They charged her with three counts of reckless homicide and one additional misdemeanor count for driving around a school bus that had its lights on and arm extended.
Slocum told ABC News the crash is still being investigated.
The National Transportation Safety Board has also sent a team of investigators to look into the circumstances surrounding the collision.
Shepherd reportedly works as the children's director at the Faith Outreach Center in Rochester, Indiana, according to ABC 57 News. She was taken to Fulton County Jail, but was released later on Tuesday after posting bond.
Those who live in the area said they've worried about the safety of the bus stop in the past.
"This school has been warned, this has been an issue, we have said this before," the victim's uncle told WNDU. "It's not safe to walk a child across a highway, especially at that time because everyone's going to work at that time."
A neighbor, who declined to be identified, also told the station she had concerns about the stretch of roadway.
"Hopefully, [the crash] has some kind of positive outcome to get this slowed down here because this is crazy," she said. "This is crazy that three kids had to die. It shouldn't have happened."
After news of the deaths spread throughout the community, Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation released a statement on Facebook expressing its condolences.
"Our school corporation has suffered a tragedy this morning," they wrote. School district officials said school counselors will be working closely with students, parents and staff as they try to process the loss.
"We are awaiting to learn more confirmed details but wish to ask the community to come together to pray for the families, our students and our staff," they wrote.
[Photo Credit: Indiana State Police]
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