KANSAS CITY — A former Kansas City, Kan., bus driver will not face criminal charges for a wreck that killed a 9-year-old girl in March.
On Friday, Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome A. Gorman said that after thoroughly examining Kansas statutes for negligence, he would not pursue charges against William H. Johnson Jr. in the death of Patience N. Cary.
“After reviewing the investigation in this case, it appears that Johnson veered off the roadway after looking into the rearview mirror, striking the stop sign and Patience Cary. Neither fatigue, alcohol, drugs nor speed appears to have played a factor in the incident,” Gorman wrote in a letter to a police detective.
Patience’s grandmother, Denise Forsman, said she felt sorry for the bus driver but was deeply disappointed by the district attorney’s decision not to file charges.
“We’ve gotten no answers, and this isn’t the answer that we wanted,” Forsman said.
“She was just standing there, and this guy just comes out of the blue and runs her over and kills her, and nothing comes of it? It doesn’t make sense.”
The wreck happened at North 66th Street and Parkview Avenue.
Johnson could not be reached Friday for comment. In late April, he was terminated from his bus driving job in the Kansas City, Kan., School District.
Gorman gave this account in the letter: During two interviews with police, an apologetic Johnson said the accident happened when he looked into the rearview mirror. A bus video appears to confirm his account.
Johnson acknowledged that he worked a second job the night before and slept about five hours.
“While the review of the video indicated that Johnson appeared to be yawning and appearing to doze off at times prior to the incident, he appeared to be alert just before and at the time of the incident. There is no evidence that fatigue caused him to veer off the roadway.”
Johnson didn’t know he'd struck Patience until one of the students informed him that he had struck the little girl.
Forsman said the family was reeling from the loss. Her mother had just come out of the house to escort Patience’s younger sister across when the bus hit Patience.
“We’re still dealing with the fact that we don’t have her,” Forsman said, noting that it has been difficult for the entire neighborhood. “They have to see that spot daily.”