The commercial tree service driver involved in a fatal October school bus crash in New York state will not be forced to answer criminal charges tied to his role in the incident.
Following a two-month-long investigation into the Oct. 21 school bus crash that resulted in the death of school bus driver Andy Sanchez and the serious injury of a 6-year-old student on board, the New Windsor Police Department and the Office of the Town Attorney determined that there is insufficient evidence to add criminal charges Ian K. Jennings, 25.
The crash investigation determined he crossed over the double yellow line and entered the oncoming eastbound lane of traffic, causing the collision with the school bus and another vehicle. Jennings was cited with failure to maintain his lane and not wearing his seatbelt. He will appear in court on those vehicle violations on Feb. 2.
But Jennings had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time. He was not excessively speeding, and no mechanical failure was present. Investigators also determined that Jennings was not using his cell phone, and he did not suffer a medical event prior to the collision.
“As a result of our investigation, it was determined we do not have evidence to support any criminal charges in this case,” said New Windsor Police Chief Robert Doss. “It comes down to this being a case of a driver that was inattentive behind the wheel. Whether Mr. Jennings was drowsy or distracted by something in or around the vehicle he was operating we will never know.”
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Doss continued, “Mr. Jennings received two traffic summonses for his role in this horrific collision that unfortunately took the life of Andrew Sanchez and seriously injured a six-year-old girl. In a matter of just a few seconds, so many lives were changed forever. The family and friends of Mr. Sanchez suffer his loss every day and the Washingtonville Central School District lost a very special employee.”
Sanchez, 74, drove for Washingtonville Central School District, located north of New York City, for the past nine years. After spending six weeks in the hospital, following the crash, he succumbed to his injuries on Dec. 3.
The 6-year-old student, identified only as Shea, spent over an hour inside the bus while firefighters worked to extricate her. She was reportedly sitting in the seat located behind Sanchez. Media reports stated Shea sustained two broken bones and a deep laceration to her leg. She was released from the hospital on Oct. 23.
“The tragic consequences of this collision are no doubt most keenly felt by the family and friends of the deceased, the severely injured six-year-old girl and her family and friends,” District Attorney David M. Hoovler stated. “The whole community is saddened by their loss. Although there was no finding of criminal liability in this case, my office has assigned an experienced assistant district attorney to prosecute the traffic summonses, which were issued.”
Editor’s note — An editing error in a previous version of this article incorrectly insinuated that the truck driver suffered a medical event. STN regrets any confusion caused.