An Indiana woman who plowed her pickup truck into four children, killing three of them as they crossed a two-lane highway to board their school bus has appealed her convictions.
In December, Alyssa Shepherd, 25, of Rochester, Indiana, was sentenced to four years in prison as well as one year of house arrest and one year of probation for each of the three counts of reckless homicide she was convicted of and her driver’s license was also suspended for 10 years.
Authorities said Shepherd was driving a pickup truck at around 7:30 a.m. when she struck four children who were crossing a two-lane road to board a Tippecanoe Valley School Corp. bus near Rochester, about 100 miles north of Indianapolis.
Six-year-old twin brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle, and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl, were killed. 11-year-old Maverik Lowe was also struck but survived but with serious injuries.
Earlier this month, a brief was filed with the court of appeals and in it, Shepherd provided arguments that certain parts of her conviction should be overturned.
The brief says the state did not provide enough evidence that Shepherd acted recklessly and instead claim her actions were due to negligence.
At the time of her arrest, Shepherd told authorities she didn’t realize that she was approaching a school bus, despite the activated stop arm and flashing lights. Court documents show Shepherd told police she saw the lights but didn’t recognize the vehicle as a school bus until the children were right in front of her.
The appeal states Shepherd thought the lights she saw were from farming equipment or an over-sized load.
The brief also says two of her convictions, criminal recklessness and passing a school bus causing injury, go against Indiana’s double jeopardy statutes, arguing one of the two convictions must be vacated.
“The fact that her error killed three siblings and forever scarred another little boy is tragic almost beyond imaginable for a parent,” the brief said. “But it does not change the fact it was still an accident.”
The crash led to statewide changes, prompting the Legislature to increase penalties for drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses.