Driver in Fatal Bus Crash in Marshall County Will Not Face Criminal Charges

The driver of a truck that crashed into an Eastern Pulaski School Corporation bus on U.S. 31 in Marshall County will not be charged in the case.

Marshall County Deputy Prosecutor Matt Sarber said in a press conference Friday afternoon that a Grand Jury of six community members reviewed an extensive amount of evidence presented by Indiana State Police Troopers, investigators, crash scene reconstructionist, and other experts and came to the conclusion that no charges will be filed against 26-year-old Tylor Perry.

Sarber said that on Dec. 5, 2018, two buses from the Eastern Pulaski School Corporation were taking students to Warsaw.  The route included traveling northbound on U.S. 31 to U.S. 30 to go to the destination.  The first bus stopped at the railroad tracks on U.S 31 near Michigan Road.  The driver engaged the four-way flashers, or hazard lights, opened the door, disengaged all noise, then closed the doors and continued north.  The second bus driver mimicked those actions, but when the bus doors closed and the driver accelerated to continue on the route, a truck driven by Tylor Perry hit the left rear of the school bus. 

Perry admitted that he obstructed his view for an undetermined moment of time.  He did see the school bus, but didn’t know that the bus was at a standstill at the railroad tracks.  Prosecutor Sarber noted that that particular piece of road does have a slight curve in it. 

Sarber further noted that Perry was traveling with his cruise control on at about 61 mph at the time and engaged his brakes about a second before impact.  He made a hard left turn at that second, but the rack of his truck crashed into the bus.

The impact caused injury to several students and the instantaneous death of 13-year-old Owen Abbott of Winamac. 

After all of the evidence was presented over the course of two days, Sarber said the Grand Jurors deliberated for about three hours before issuing a “No Bill”, meaning that no charges would be filed. 

“They deliberated on charges that are reckless in nature.  It could be reckless homicide or criminal recklessness, but they were all reckless because there was no intent to cause any harm here.  When they were given the decision, they were advised of what ‘reckless’ means.  It means that a person engages in conduct recklessly if he engages in the conduct in plain, conscious, and unjustifiable disregard of harm that might result and the disregard involves a substantial deviation from acceptable standards of conduct.  And I would stress the disregard involves a substantial deviation of acceptable standards of conduct.”

The elements of conscious act and substantial deviation of standards of conduct in the definition of “recklessly” considered by the Grand Jury and was set by state statute. 

As per the Grand Jury’s conclusion, no criminal charges will be filed with the Marshall County Prosecutor’s Office as they have called the investigation closed.  The Prosecutor’s Office is bound by the decision of the Grand Jury.  Unless new evidence comes forth, which Sarber declared is unlikely, the criminal matter is now closed.

The family of Owen Abbott was notified of the conclusion of the Grand Jury as was Tylor Perry.  Out of respect for both parties, no comment was given on the reaction of that notification. 

Sarber praised the professionalism by the Grand Jury members, Indiana State Police, Marshall County Coroner John Grolich and all involved in the investigation. 

Now that the criminal investigation is closed, the rules of the road concerning bus safety procedures traveling on highways will make its way to state legislators.

Perry does face several civil lawsuits in the matter, but those cases were not discussed in during Friday afternoon’s press conference.