No charge for driver in fatal bus accident

A Grand Valley Transit bus driver didn’t see a toddler and his mother attempting to cross North Avenue outside of the crosswalk when he accidentally killed the child in May, Mesa County prosecutors have concluded.

The 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday it does not believe a jury would find that the driver of the bus, Joseph Sparn, had operated the bus in a careless or imprudent manner. The agency is therefore declining to press charges against Sparn.

“The criminal justice system just doesn’t have anything to add to this tragedy,” Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said.

Three-year-old Virgil Stansberry died after he was struck by the bus that was turning from southbound 29 Road onto westbound North Avenue at 12:30 p.m. May 19.

After a formal and thorough review of the fatal crash, officials determined that Sparn could not see the toddler and his mother, Samantha Stansberry, because of several blind spots from where Sparn was seated operating the bus.

“He can’t see them. They’re standing where the mirror is. He has the right-of-way,” Hautzinger said. “They walked into the bus, basically.”

Samantha Stansberry told officials she was looking down at her son while entering the crosswalk and she did not see the bus.

A video shows her walking into the side of the bus, which caused her son to roll under the rear tires of the bus.

“It appears that the victim and his mother were ‘cutting the corner’ of the crosswalk in an attempt to enter the crosswalk,” according to a prepared statement by the District Attorney’s Office.

Sparn told law enforcement he did not see the two pedestrians prior to striking them, and officials with the District Attorney’s Office believe Sparn likely is being truthful, according to the evidence.

The report states that a witness told law enforcement that the mother was standing about three feet west of the crosswalk before they started walking into the roadway. That report also matches up with video evidence and information from the accident reconstrutction team, the DA’s office said.

Hautzinger said an attorney review team dedicated a entire meeting to reviewing materials and evidence in the case, including the results from the Grand Junction Police Department’s accident reconstruction team and a digital imaging re-creation of the crash scene, which shows “second-by-second” playback of the events.

Hautzinger said the meeting was emotional and compelling, causing some attorneys to cry.

“From the video, you could tell the driver really couldn’t see her,” he said.


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