FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Case # 15NF0005
Date: June 18, 2018
SCHOOL BUS DRIVER CONVICTED OF CHILD ABUSE AND ENDANGERMENT FOR INJURING STUDENTS AFTER PASSING OUT BEHIND THE WHEEL AND CRASHING INTO TREES
*First plea entered via video conferencing in Orange County history
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A former school bus driver was convicted of child abuse and endangerment for causing severe injuries to students by passing out behind the wheel and crashing into several trees.
|Defendant||Charges||Maximum Sentence||Court Date|
|Gerald Douglas Rupple, 28, Ajo, Ariz.||Pleaded guilty on June 15, 2018 to the following felony counts:
Sentencing Enhancement (Admitted):
|26 years and four months in state prison||Sentencing
Oct. 19, 2018, 9:00 a.m.
Department C-41, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana
Circumstances of the Case
- At approximately 3:40 p.m. on April 24, 2014, Rupple drove a school bus for the Orange Unified School District (OUSD) and transported a group of 11 El Rancho Charter Middle School students in Anaheim Hills.
- The defendant passed out behind the wheel while driving approximately 50 miles per hour, causing the school bus to veer off the road and crash into several trees.
- All of the students received injuries to varying degrees. Four of the students sustained major injuries including fractured bones, intra-cranial hemorrhaging, a shattered spine, and amputation of a toe.
- At the time of the crash, Rupple had a medical condition that caused dizziness, seizures, and blackouts.
- The defendant did not disclose his medical history to OUSD knowing that it would negatively affect his employment.
- Rupple did not disclose his medical condition to the physician conducting his required commercial driver fitness examination and falsely declared under penalty of perjury that his medical history was accurate.
- Rupple was arrested in Arizona on Jan. 8, 2015, and was transported back to Orange County by the California Highway Patrol, who investigated the case.
Prosecutor: Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Kirk, Special Prosecutions Unit