NORMAN, Okla. (KOKH) — A parent suspects distracted driving led to the crash of a Norman Public Schools bus in Texas last year.
According to court documents, the attorney for Elizabeth and Brian Jones has filed a motion saying the Texas Highway Patrol suspected Ty Bell, the driver of that bus, was using his cell phone at the time of the crash. There were 24 girls on the bus that crashed and rolled in Lampass, Texas last September. Five students and two adults were injured.
District officials have challenged the claim, saying there's no indication Bell was using his cell phone.
Superintendent Dr. Nick Migliorino released the following statement to FOX 25:
Court filings are often one-sided and make statements that can result in inferences that are neither reliable nor well-founded. We don’t know where the attorney came up with the assertion that the driver was using his cell phone at the time of the crash. We have not heard that from the highway patrol nor anyone else who investigated this matter. In fact, the accident report itself makes no finding that a cell phone was in use. The district has not refused to produce the video. However, the video shows multiple students—not just a single student—and as such, it is subject to the court’s decision regarding the circumstances of viewing the video in order to fully protect the privacy and other rights of all of the students. The district has fully cooperated with the investigation. School officials have worked from the day of the accident to cooperate, provide information, respond to requests from all interested parties responsibly, and to balance the rights of those who request information and documents with obligations owed to all students and employees involved in the bus accident. We respect the court process and fully expect the interpleader action will sort out the competing claims for the $1 million that has been deposited with the court so that it will be available when the court makes a determination regarding the amount to be paid to each claimant.
District officials have declined to release video from the bus, saying a judge will have to rule due to child privacy laws.
The legal team for Ty Bell, the driver of the bus, released the following statement to FOX 25:
"Any allegation that Ty Bell was using a call phone at the time of the bus accident involving Cleveland Elementary students on September, 29, 2018 is false and untrue. For any news organization, attorney or other person o disseminate this information is irresponsible and baseless. The Texas law enforcement officers investigated the use of a cell phone by Ty Bell immediately prior to and at the time of the accident. They found none. There were two adults seated directly behind Ty Bell who could've seen cell phone use. They saw none. Alleging cellphone use when there is no evidence of cell phone use is irresponsible and not helpful to the students who attend Cleveland Elementary. Falsely representing what occurred during that accident does not assist in the dissemination of the insurance money placed at issue nor does it affect the distribution of those funds. No one benefits from false and untrue allegations."
John Rogers with Texas DPS told FOX 25, "I have no idea where they [legal team for Elizabeth and Brian Jones] obtained this information/claim. This information did not come through me. I am the official department spokesperson for the area where this occurred. This information/claim did not originate through my office".