By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: March 25, 2019 | 4:34p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – A Prince George County school bus driver is out on bond after being arrested in connection with an early March crash where their bus ran off the road, struck roadside objects and failed to stop or report the accident, instead taking the students to school, where authorities were made aware of the incident by the parents of children on board.
According to Prince George Police, 48-year-old Holly Owens of Charles City was charged with felony failure to stop at the scene of an accident and reckless driving in connection with a single-vehicle crash during the morning commute on March 8.
At that time, police said the bus, driven by Owens had “traveled off of the left shoulder of Pumphouse Road.” When it did, authorities said the bus “struck a mailbox and a culvert pipe before the driver was able to re-position the bus back on the roadway.”
Their investigation revealed that the driver continued their route, transporting students to South Elementary School and, according to police, “After the students were released at the school, the Police Department was made aware of the incident.”
Three students on the bus were taken from the school and transported to Petersburg’s Southside Regional Medical Center via ambulance with minor injuries, with school officials noting roughly five other students whose parents took them to the hospital for evaluation.
Speaking to The Prince George Journal shortly after the incident, Prince George Police Chief Keith Early said their investigation showed, “the school bus was involved in a crash, the school bus driver did not stop at the scene and went on to the school, to which [police] were then notified about the crash, but it was not the bus driver who reported it.”
Parents with children on the bus along others in the community were concerned following reports that a bus driver had a crash but did not stop to report an incident, something Prince George County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lisa Pennycuff said is not proper procedure.
“They are supposed to report those incidents immediately,” she said in an interview after the March 8 crash. “The driver is to call and immediately report the incident and stay on the scene. We have members of our transportation department report to the scene. We usually have a police officer there. If needed, we have the bus pulled out, either by our staff and our equipment or if we need to call someone for help, we do that. We generally have another bus report and pick up the children and take them on to school so, that way the driver and the bus don’t leave the scene of the accident.”
Pennycuff continued, “So, for us, the director of transportation or someone he designates from his office would then accompany the driver for a drug screening, that is part of our normal process.”
At the time, the driver of the bus had not been identified but school division leadership said an investigation into the incident was underway and that they are “investigating this as a personnel matter,” adding that the driver involved “will be on administrative leave until the investigation has been completed.”
The Prince George Journal has reached out to the school division to confirm the driver’s status as an employee and if she is still on administrative leave and this story will be updated with comments from Prince George Public Schools.