Wednesday, December 06, 2000

Driver: Scuffle before crash

School bus passenger died; bad driving record revealed

The Associated Press

        HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. — The driver of the school bus involved in Thursday's fatal crash in Christian County told school officials that a student had grabbed her arm and caused the steering wheel to jerk seconds before the accident.

        Ulima Allen, 36, said in a signed, handwritten account that the last thing she remembered was reaching for the boy as he began falling toward the door of the bus as the vehicle weaved. Tyler Powers, 5, the son of a Fort Campbell soldier, was killed.

        Records released Monday by the Christian County Board of Education also showed Ms. Allen drove a bus off the road and it became stuck in a muddy ditch in April. None of the 15 students aboard then was hurt. It was raining at the time, and Ms. Allen was not charged.

        According to Ms. Allen's account and statements taken from children on the bus, a disturbance occurred in the vehicle as it traveled north on Ky. 117.

        Tyler Powers was one of 48 on the bus. Ms. Allen and 32 students were injured.

        Two days before the crash, Ms. Allen's driver's license was reinstated after she paid a $125 fine to settle a delinquent speeding ticket in Lyon County. Her license had been suspended Nov. 15, and school officials have said Ms. Allen did not drive the bus during the interim. She returned to work Nov. 29.

        Records also indicate Ms. Allen was ticketed in Christian County in 1997 for allegedly driving 15 mph over the speed limit. She also had her driver's license suspended in Louisiana in 1991 after she failed to pay a speeding ticket and got a second citation for driving on a suspended license.

        Raymond David Clagg, the Christian County school system's transportation director, said he was unaware of Ms. Allen's driving record in Louisiana. When she underwent a police-conducted background investigation after applying for a bus driver's job in September 1999, no arrests turned up.


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