Former Orange County Bus Driver Pleads Guilty To Charges Stemming From Bus Crash In 2014
It’s been nearly four years since the tragic bus crashed occurred in Anaheim Hills, CA that was caused by a former Orange Unified School District bus driver, however, the case may soon be coming to a close. Gerald Douglas Rupple, 28, has finally pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts of child abuse and endangerment, and a single felony count of perjury. NBC 4 also reported that Rupple admitted to four sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury. One of the reasons why this case has dragged on for so long is because Rupple suffers from serious medical conditions, which is partly why he is facing the charges that he is today.
When Rupple first applied with the Orange County Unified School District, he neglected to tell his employer that he had been diagnosed with a “a rare and terminal illness known as pulmonary arterial hypertension.” The source stated that Rupple lied about his medical condition and that he actually suffered from dizziness, seizures, and blackouts, which all would have likely prevented him from obtaining the school bus driving position he acquired. Yet, Rupple claims his physicians told him despite his condition, he was safe to drive.
But, on April 24, 2014, Rupple lost consciousness while driving a bus carrying 11 El Rancho Charter Middle School students. The vehicle has been traveling at approximately 50 mph and ended up swerving off the roadway and into several trees. Four of the students sustained severe injuries including broken bones, bleeding on the brain, and a shattered spine. One of those students even had to get a toe amputated. Although the Orange County Unified School District was able to reach a $10 million settlement agreement with the victims’’ families in January 2017, Rupple’s case was still pending.
As the years have gone on, Rupple has continued to suffer from medical conditions which seemed to have delayed the processing of his case. In fact, just recently, he underwent double lung transplant surgery. However, the courts determined that it was time for his case to come out of “legal limbo.” Instead of Rupple attending his court hearing in California, he was able to submit his plea via Skype while in his hospital room as he is too ill to travel just yet. He is even staying in a motel room in Phoenix that is nearby to the Banner University Medical Group so that he is close by. The source indicated that his home is located in Ajo, AZ and is simply too far for him to travel back and forth at this time.
Rupple is currently taking medication that is expected to help his body accept the transplant. Rupple’s attorney flew to Phoenix for the teleconference and stated that her client was mentally capable of making his plea. In the Skype call, you can see Rupple wearing a surgical mask at times and was also wearing a bandage on his right hand. Although sentencing has not been agreed on, the maximum punishment for Rupple’s crimes is a prison sentence that would last 26 years and four months. However, there has been discussion that he may only receive 10 of those 26 years and that he may qualify for probation. His next scheduled hearing is set for October 19th where he is expected to be sentenced.
As you can see with this case, bus accidents, especially those that result in serious injuries, often take time to settle. While the families affected by the accident received their settlement in 2017, nearly three years later, they haven’t yet received the justice for the crimes that were committed that resulted in their children suffering. With that said, it is vital that if you or your child are ever involved in a bus accident in Los Angeles, CA, you will want to take legal action immediately following the incident. The faster you contact a Los Angeles, CA bus accident attorney, the quicker they can begin building you a solid case with ample support.
Should you ever need help locating an attorney, USAttorneys.com is who you need to call as they work closely with some of the best lawyers in Los Angeles whose primary focus is helping victims of bus crashes.