Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Bail sticks in crash of bus

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - One minute, Joe Ramsey was celebrating his 37th birthday, eating ice cream and cake at his Oxford home Friday night.

The next, his telephone rang - and he heard news that made his mind race and his heart pound: his daughter, Ashley, and other Talawanda High School students were terrified and hurt after a car crashed into their school bus.

"Her cheerleading coach had called; you could hear all the kids in the background, just screaming hysterically," Ramsey said.

Ramsey recounted the crash's aftermath Monday, moments after he urged Butler County Area Court Judge Robert Hendrickson to maintain a high bail for the Corvette Stingray driver accused of plowing into the busload of students and teachers as they returned from a Dayton, Ohio, football game.

Bail remains $309,000 for Jonathan J. Burnett, 41, of Madison Township.

Burnett was convicted just last month on a July 25 driving under the influence charge in Franklin and also was convicted of DUI in Middletown in 1994, state license records show. He now faces his third drunken-driving charge - and 34 others - as a result of the Wayne Township bus crash: 30 felony counts of aggravated vehicular assault for each bus passenger, driving under a suspended license, reckless operation, failure to yield and assault on a paramedic. His preliminary hearing is set for Thursday in Oxford's Butler County Area I Court.

Meanwhile, Talawanda school officials on Monday night commended the bus driver, Shirley A. Miller of Sharonville, for maintaining control of the bus after the Corvette struck it at Ohio 73 and Ohio 503.

Passengers on the bus suffered only minor injuries. All were treated and released.

But Ramsey's daughter, Ashley, 16, stayed home from school - partly because nightmares about the crash have kept her from sleeping.


E-mail jmorse@enquirer.com

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