Former Douglass bus driver seeks diversion

By: KAKE News Email
By: KAKE News Email

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El Dorado, KS. -- A former Douglass bus driver who was behind the wheel of the school bus that went into a creek last Halloween, has filed for a diversion.

Morris Peterson filed for diversion in the case on Monday. The Butler County attorney will defer prosecution for 12 months. If Peterson says out of trouble with the law, then the state will not follow through with prosecution.

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Former Douglass bus driver Morris Peterson, behind the wheel of the ill fated bus which went into a creek last Halloween, was in traffic court in Butler County Monday.

The 64 year old former state trooper requested a bench trial. His attorney Gail Jensen says, "Right now the matter's set on the Magistrate's docket on April 2nd."

Jensen says, "If we want to proceed to a bench trial it would be scheduled for that date. If we wish to proceed to jury, we'll simply request for a jury trial and that'll move the matter down the road date-wise to where we could get a jury together."

Jensen says he expects to meet with the assistant county attorney assigned to the case before then to discuss their perspectives of the case and perhaps reach an out of court resolution.

Peterson is charged with one count of endangering a child and one count of reckless driving. Peterson was driving the Douglass school students home October 31st on Hopkins Switch road. He'd crossed the low water bridge so many times before. But on that day an investigating state trooper estimates there were 18 to 24 inches of water flowing over the bridge.

The bus went over the side of the bridge and flipped on its side. Ten children and Peterson all got wet as they climbed out the side windows and awaited rescue.

Jensen says, "There's plenty of indication that emergency personnel were crossing that stream on a regular basis up to that point with no untoward occurrences whatsoever."

Jensen says he's convinced once the public gets a fuller understanding of what happened that day their perception of Peterson's actions will change. "We need the whole picture."

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