June 21, 2005
A Louisa County bus driver involved in a deadly bus accident back in February went before trial Tuesday. The accident happened when the bus driver swerved off Route 618 and hit a tree. Eight students were injured, including 16-year-old Thomas Cameron, who died.
On Tuesday, Cameron's family filed into the courtroom for the trial of the bus driver, Lorrie Ann Batten. The main argument was whether Batten fell asleep at the wheel or whether a Camero ran her off the road.
Two students on the bus that day testified that they saw no other cars come into their lane, and claimed she seemed sleepy that day. Batten and another passenger, who happened to be her boyfriend's daughter, maintained someone did run cross into her lane forcing her to swerve off the road, which was consistent with testimony from investigators citing that there were no skid marks on the road.
The judge did not believe there was another car involved, but also did not feel there was enough evidence to prove Batten fell asleep at the wheel or the reckless driving charge. Instead, he found her guilty of improper driving.
"That's a very typical outcome to take a reckless driving charge down to an infracton of improper driving, that's what judges do in fairness when someone really hasn't driven recklessly, but he questions the way she drove, " said Dave Heilberg, Batten's Attorney.
The improper driving charge is a lesser charge, therefore Batten will not serve any jail time. She will have to pay a $500 fine. Several civil lawsuits filed against Batten by some of the passengers are still pending.