Indiana Senate committee supports tougher penalties for bus stop violations
The bill was prompted by the crash on SR 25 that killed three siblings Xzavier Ingle, 6, Mason Ingle, 6, and Alivia Stahl, 9, and injured Maverik Lowe.
Alivia's father Michael Stahl testified before the committee.
"I didn’t get to say goodbye to my daughter. I didn’t give her a hug, I didn’t get to give her a kiss. She was gone," Michael said.
He also shared details of the intimate moments of when he saw his daughter on the scene.
“To see my daughter after everything, I looked into those eyes and they weren’t her eyes. They were gone. They were hollow. This is the reality," Michael said.
Alyssa Shepherd is facing three counts of reckless homicide and one count of criminal recklessness resulting in bodily injury in connection with the crash. She is also facing one misdemeanor for driving around a school bus with a stop arm extended.
Michael doesn't want any other father to have to go through the pain he has experienced since October 30, 2018.
He wants stronger penalties for drivers who go around stopped school buses.
Following the testimony, the committee unanimously supported Senate Bill 2, which would increase penalties for drivers who commit bus stop arm violations.
Senator Randy Head, R-District 18, state representative for Fulton County, authored the bill.
“I think if someone violates a school bus stop arm, a stop sign, or violated the flashing light, and they keep doing it. They keep getting ticketed or charged, they keep getting convicted, the penalties have to get worse because obviously they’re not getting it. They ought to be severe and they ought to keep getting higher," Head said.
For the parents affected the support from senators to pass this bill brings hope.
“It’s amazing to know that people agree that bus stop safety is important, that kids safety is important. Its common sense, but it’s nice to hear that 10 people agree," Shane Ingle, the father of twins Mason and Xavier, said.
“This gives me purpose. To try and prevent this heartache, this tragedy from happening again to other parents," Michael said.
Brittany Ingle, the mother of all three children killed in the crash was unable to attend the hearing. She released this statement:
I am extremely happy and grateful that Senator Head and the committee voted yes to send the bill to the full Senate for a vote and hopefully becoming the MAX Strong bill that will help improve school bus safety for all children. Our Children were our passion and meant everything to us and we were devastated after they were taken from us in the blink of an eye and we were not sure how we were even going to continue. My father had done some research and we got together and it became obvious to Shane and I what we needed to do next. That same love and passion for our children inspired Shane and I to create the Max Strong movement. And with the help, support and encouragement of thousands of people: bus drivers, mothers, fathers, grandparents school administrators, the help of the media, the help of Senator Head and other legislators and support from around the country we knew we had to try to make something positive out of this horrible tragedy. Championing these causes and helping to bring meaningful legislation to life so that no other families will ever have to go through this same horror and tragedy was the only path we could choose. We didn't want our children to just be a casualty and forgotten about. We wanted their love, their energy to live on forever and they were always so giving and wanting to make people happy. We want to continue their memory by helping get this legislation passed so other families will benefit from the changes this new legislation will bring. We thank everyone but want to remind them it's not over. We still have work to do. Please keep the calls coming, keep the letters coming let your senators and legislators and governors know we need this bill pass. Please don't let up. Let's not stop until this bill becomes law and is signed by the governor.
Senate Bill 2 is on its way to becoming law but first, it will have to go to the full senate for amendment and then again to the full senate for an up and down vote.