Tuesday, March 16, 2010

School Bus Driver Charged with Homicide

A school bus driver was listening to his iPod, talking on his cell phone and ran 10 stop signs before a deadly crash in Montgomery County last month, prosecutors said Monday.

Frederick Poust III has been charged with vehicular homicide in connection to the February 17 crash.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said Poust, 38, was listening to his iPod, chatting on his cell phone via a bluetooth device and hadn't slept in two days when he caused a crash that left a 27-year-old man dead.

The accident was caught on tape by the school bus' camera and allegedly shows the bus going through 10 stop signs before crashing into a car driven by 41-year-old Freddie Carroll. Carroll was seriously injured and his passenger, 27-year-old Richard Taylor, was killed. Carroll told Eyewitness News that he has had eight surgeries in three weeks.

Authorities said Poust was behind the wheel and 45 students were on board a Perkiomen Valley school bus when it struck Carroll's car on Route 73.

Police said the bus was turning into the Perkiomen Valley Middle School West parking lot when it collided with a 1999 Honda Civic.

"Unfortunately his recklessness led to Mr. Taylor's death and for that we have charged him with homicide," said Ferman.

Poust was officially charged with vehicular homicide and 45 counts of reckless endangerment.

The Perkiomen Valley School District released the following statement:

"We are just learning the details of the charges and can't comment on those. However, as always, the safety of our school children is the first priority of the Perkiomen Valley School District. We will do everything we can to ensure that all of our students are transported safely to and from their school buildings each and every day.

The Perkiomen Valley School District contracts with Student Transportation of America to operate our school bus service because of the company's excellent safety record and its first rate training program for its drivers.

The alleged actions of one driver on one day should not reflect negatively on the difficult work school bus drivers do safely and successfully every day.

We defer to the decision of the appropriate law enforcement authorities regarding their initiation of criminal charges relating to this tragic accident and believe that further comment regarding those charges would be inappropriate pending the disposition of the charges. We will, of course, continue to fully cooperate with the appropriate authorities in regard to this matter."

Attorney Tom Kline is representing Freddie Carroll and he filed a lawsuit suit Monday against the company that hires the bus drivers for the district.

"It's a significant oversight to allow a person who had a prior fatality on his record to be unknown by the bus company which is allowing him to drive a bus," said Kline.

The company, Student Transportations, sent out a statement saying it would not comment on the situation because it is now a legal matter.

Poust was previously cited in a November 1999 crash that claimed the life of a two-year-old girl. He told police he was dialing his cell phone when he ran a stop sign and struck the other vehicle in Hilltown Township.

Poust's employer said a background check did not reveal the details of the crash and he had no subsequent violations prior to his hiring in February 2009.

Poust remains in the Montgomery County prison in lieu of $150,000 cash bail.