Driver of Deadly Georgia School Bus Crash Sentenced to Probation

The driver involved in a school bus crash that killed a 17-year-old was only sentenced to probation for the incident.A Georgia school bus driver has been sentenced to a year of probation and $600 fine in connection with a crash that killed a Caroll County high school student last year.

Kenneth Ross Herringdine, who was a trainee at the time of the accident, received a lighter sentence after pleading guilty to failing to maintain a lane as part of a negotiated plea deal. The sentence outraged Diana Lockett, the mother of victim James Rashawn Walker, who was 17 at the time of his death.

"My child is dead and this man still has his license. I was expecting [him] at least to be charged with vehicular homicide," Lockett told the Atlanta Constitution-Journal.

Walker was the only fatality in the accident, which also injured 12 other people. Walker was reportedly partially ejected from the bus after it went off the road and overturned in a ditch. He was caught under the vehicle when it rolled over.

Police said drugs and alcohol were not contributing factors in the accident.

School officials later admitted that Herringdine, 59, was not certified to be driving students at the time of the crash. However, he had a valid commercial drivers license and an experienced school bus driver was on board training him.

The lawyer representing Walker's parents told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they only learned of Herringdine's plea deal just before his arraignment.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 1,386 people have died in school transported-related crashes since 2000. Occupants of the vehicles account for about 8 percent of those fatalities consist of school transportation vehicle passengers, while 72 percent were occupants of other vehicles involved. The agency said more school-age pedestrians are killed between the hours of 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. than any other time of the day.