Police say a Mid-Del schools bus driver dropped off students safely at Del City High School Monday morning before being involved in four separate accidents, only stopping after driving up an embankment and crashing the school bus into a railroad bridge.
Odis Pitts, 58, had been a bus driver with Midwest City-Del City Public schools since the 2011-2012 school year. School administrators say that the man's employment background check turned up no felony convictions, he had no had any prior incidents in driving the bus, and that students tell them they did not notice anything amiss before the driver dropped them off. After they were dropped off at school, though, things apparently took a turn for the worse.
News reports say that the bus was first involved in two non-injury accidents. The bus then struck a vehicle from behind, pushing it into oncoming traffic where it was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle. That crash resulted in injury, including a suspected broken pelvis for one person involved. The bus, however, continued on, where it rear-ended a dump truck before driving up an embankment and into the railroad bridge.
When police arrived, they discovered Pitts unconscious. He was arrested on complaints including driving under the influence of drugs (DUID), three counts of leaving the scene of an accident, and one count of leaving the scene of an injury accident. The bus driver was transported to a hospital where he was expected to remain overnight before being transported to the Oklahoma County jail.
Leaving the scene of a non-injury accident is a misdemeanor. According to 47 O.S.§ 10-103, failure to stop and remain at the scene of an accident in which one is involved is a misdemeanor that brings up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $500.
If the accident results in a non-fatal injury, the consequences are more severe. Section 10-102 requires anyone involved in an accident resulting in injury to remain at the scene and render aid. Failure to do so is a felony punishable by a maximum of 2 years in prison, a $1,000 fine, and the loss of the driver's license. Failure to stop at the scene of a fatal accident is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison as well as fines and license revocation.
The penalties for DUI vary depending on the circumstances of the offense. In general, a first offense of DUI is a misdemeanor punishable by 10 days to one year in jail. However, penalties are enhanced for factors such as transportation of a minor, elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and repeat DUI offenses.
Image Credit: Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman