Alyssa Shepherd, the woman charged in last month's deadly bus stop crash in Indiana has entered a preliminary plea. She pleads not guilty to the deaths of 6-year-old twin brothers Mason and Xzavier Ingle and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl.
Shepherd has been charged with three counts of reckless homicide and one count of passing a school bus with its safety arm extended and causing injury.
A fourth child, 11-year-old Maverik Lowe, was also hit. Weeks after the October 30 crash, he remains in the hospital.
The incident, which happened on October 30, rocked the nation. People felt deeply for the three children who were taken too soon.
On that Tuesday morning, the identical twins and Alivia Stahl were struck by a truck. The tragedy happened on a rural road in Indiana. Sgt. Tony Slocum, the public information officer for the Indiana State Police, revealed the details to ABC.
The driver of the pickup truck, Alyssa Shepherd, 24, was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon. She has been charged with three counts of reckless homicide and one misdemeanor count of disregarding a stop sign and causing injury, officials told ABC News.
Shepherd was taken to the Fulton County Jail after the accident. However, she was released Tuesday night on a $15,000 surety bond, evening jail supervising officer Adam Roop told ABC News.
The accident happened around 7:15 a.m. in Rochester, Indiana, which is located near Fort Wayne. The injured boy was taken to a hospital in Fort Wayne, and he was in surgery.
"Our hearts just break for the families involved here in this tragic situation, and our prayers obviously go out to them," Slocum said. "It was a tough day to watch the emotions that these family members had to go through and a tough day for first responders. It's been a while since I've seen first responders cry, but I saw some tears shed today because that's what the situation dictated."
The four children were crossing a two-lane road from a mobile home park where they lived to get to their school bus. A preliminary investigation showed the yellow school bus was in the northbound lane with its emergency lights flashing and its stop-sign arm out when the children were struck by the southbound truck.
The agency said they will "zero in" on how to keep children safe while embarking and disembarking a school bus.
After the crash, the driver took a blood test to determine if drugs or alcohol were involved. However, it's not known what she said about the crash or how she reacted.
"We don't know why this crash happened as we speak here right now," Slocum said.
The Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation where the children attended posted a statement on Facebook after the incident.
"Our school corporation has suffered a tragedy this morning. We have learned of three student fatalities and one student seriously injured and airlifted to a Fort Wayne hospital as they were hit by a vehicle while boarding their bus. We have deployed all school counselors to meet the emotional needs of our staff, students and parents," the school wrote on Facebook. "We are awaiting to learn more confirmed details but wish to ask the community to come together to pray for the families, our students and our staff."
Now, over two weeks later, 24-year-old Alyssa Shepherd, says she saw the lights but didn’t recognize the vehicle as a school bus, according to court records. She didn't realize it was a bus until the kids were right in front of the bus, she said.
At today's hearing, Alivia Stahl's father, Michael Stahl, sat in the back of the courtroom. According to local news, he barely held back tears as he heard the charges against Shepherd.
He said he appreciates everyone's prayers, and he's also praying for the Shepherd family. He also asked for people to stop sending death threats to Shepherd.
"It doesn't help us," Stahl said. "It's doesn't do my daughter justice."
He hopes to do his daughter justice by living like Aliva did—always looking on the bright side. He also shared that he's focusing on his other daughter, 11, who was not at the bus stop that day because she had a doctor's appointment.
"A child that age shouldn't have to grow up that fast," he said, speaking about the fact that his daughter has to deal with the loss of 3 siblings.
Please pray for the Stahl and Ingle families as they deal with the passing of the children. This remains a terrible tragedy.