Meridian Star

October 5, 2012

Man convicted in school bus accident

Associated Press

FOREST, Miss. — An 88-year-old Scott County man has pleaded guilty to passing a stopped school bus and striking and injuring two children.

Assistant District Attorney Steven Kilgore tells The Chronicle that Sammy Floyd Hunter pleaded guilty in the Scott County Circuit Court on Monday. He said in the plea bargain Hunter was sentenced to five years, with five years suspended and three years' probation. Hunter also surrendered his driver's license.

In July 2011, Hunter was charged with hitting two young girls with his vehicle as they got off a school bus in rural Scott County. Shortly after his arrest, Sheriff Mike Lee said Hunter told authorities he was approaching the bus from the opposite direction of U.S. Highway 80 just east of Forest and did not realize the bus was stopped.

Lee said the two girls were treated at a hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

State law specifies that vehicles must stop at least 10 feet from any stopped school bus that is picking up or dropping off children. The driver of a vehicle must not proceed until the children have crossed the street safely and the bus has resumed moving.

Kilgore said Hunter's age and health played a major role in his sentencing. He pointed out that Hunter took a plea bargain after several delays in the trial date. He said the girls' mother agreed to the plea bargain.

"This is an 88-year-old man with lots of health problems," said Kilgore. "While the mother of these girls was upset that her children had to go through this ... prison wasn't what she wanted for Mr. Hunter. She made our office aware of her stance and what she wanted to come out of the case." Kilgore said.