Class A misdemeanor for man who passed stopped school bus on right

Friday, September 27, 2019

PUTNAMVILLE — A Clay County man who passed a stopped school bus on the right side Tuesday afternoon is being charged with a Class A misdemeanor.

David Harris, 34, Cory, is the first person charged in Putnam County with passing a school bus when the arm signal is extended since the state enacted more serious repercussions for the offense.

Harris could face up to a year of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000.

The incident happened at about 3:40 p.m. as South Putnam bus driver Nancy Knapp was preparing for a stop while westbound on U.S. 40 just west of the Putnamville State Police Post.

Bus tracking software shows that Knapp displayed the amber caution lights for approximately 13 seconds before coming to a complete stop. Beyond this, the stop arm was extended for another seven seconds from the time the bus stopped until Harris passed on the right.

In the video from bus camera, a child can be seen walking to the front when Knapp exclaims something, throws out her arm and closes the door as a red pickup speeds by on the grassy shoulder.

“In passing the school bus on the right shoulder, as a child was in the process of exiting the school bus, Mr. Harris endangered the safety of the child and places said child at risk of serious bodily injury,” Putnam County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Kyle Gibbons wrote.

Gibbons spoke with Harris two days after the incident. When he told Harris the reason for the meeting, he said, “Yeah, I messed up bad.”

In the voluntary statement he completed for Gibbons, Harris said he was westbound on U.S. 40 when he dropped his cigarette lighter. He reached down to pick it up and took his eyes off the road.

“When I looked up, there was a school bus stopped in front of me,” Harris said. “I swerved to keep from hitting the bus. It was not done on purpose but I passed the bus on the right.”

While Harris said his distraction from the road was only momentary, Knapp told bus superintendent Brad Ogborn she saw a group of cars stop behind her but the pickup never even slowed.

Harris was not taken into custody in the case. He has instead been sent a summons for a Nov. 18 initial hearing.

The new laws regarding stop arm violations went into effect in the state in July. In the aftermath of three children being killed by a motorist in Fulton County last year, the Indiana General Assembly and Gov. Eric Holcomb acted, toughening the laws relating to stop arm violations.

In an August report on the new laws as well as problems South Putnam buses have encountered along U.S. 40, Knapp told the Banner Graphic she tries to give her fellow drivers plenty of notice before making a stop.

“I’m not a driver who’s just going to throw my stop arm out,” Knapp said. “If they’re passing me, I’m going to slow down and not put the arm out yet.”

“Nobody can stop at a moving stop sign,” Ogborn added.

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  • Not harsh enough by any means. He should lose his license and it should be more severe repercussions.

    -- Posted by hometowngirl626 on Fri, Sep 27, 2019, at 8:44 PM
  • Lying dirtbag should be forced to look at pictures of the 3 kids killed last year in Northern Indiana. Not that it would change his driving any.

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Sat, Sep 28, 2019, at 10:05 AM
  • He should loose his license for LIFE!!!!!!

    -- Posted by becker on Sat, Sep 28, 2019, at 10:18 AM
  • Funny how many people "drop" something and it causes them to run red lights, disregard stop signs, run into someone and now PASS A SCHOOL BUS ON THE SIDE THE EXIT FROM!!! I simply don't buy his story.

    -- Posted by OldTimePointer on Sat, Sep 28, 2019, at 2:45 PM
  • This guy is an idiot, there is just no other name for it.

    -- Posted by BJCP96 on Sun, Sep 29, 2019, at 10:39 AM
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