CALGARY — The driver of a Calgary school bus that struck a parked gravel truck, killing one child and injuring 11 others, pleaded guilty to careless driving and was fined the maximum $2,300 on Tuesday.
Kathelynn Occena, 9, died last October when the bus driven by Louise Rogers, 40, drifted onto the shoulder of a major thoroughfare and hit the truck, shearing the side off the bus.
Rogers was also suspended from driving for 90 days, put on probation for one year and ordered to take grief counselling.
Rogers was initially facing several criminal counts, but was charged under the Traffic Safety Act following a police investigation.
Kathelynn’s mother, Genevieve Occena, was furious as she left court Tuesday.
“It is a joke,” she said. “It is unfair. I lost a daughter and all she got is … a $2,000 fine and 90 days (driving suspension).”
Occena said the family intends to take Rogers to court through a civil lawsuit.
But a police spokesman said investigators determined that “momentary inattention” caused the crash and the lesser charges were appropriate.
Crown prosecutor Kyra Kondro said Rogers was “listening to music via her MP3 ear buds” when the crash occurred.
“As the school bus went forward, the entire right passenger cabin wall of the bus was torn off and eventually the right front wheel of the school bus was dislodged,” said Kondro, reading from an agreed statement of facts.
In court, Rogers expressed regret for what happened.
“I have lost a great deal of sleep and shed many tears as I’m sure all of you have,” she said.
Defence lawyer Allan Low said Rogers has been racked with guilt since the crash last Oct. 18.
“From the time of this accident, she has been a wreck,” Low told provincial court Judge Brian Stevenson.
“She is plagued with remorse that started immediately and hasn’t abated in any fashion.”