Prince George bus driver charged with crashing, leaving scene

Parents upset with bus driver following crash

PRINCE GEORGE, VA (WWBT) - The driver of a school bus who crashed and then keep driving has been arrested.

Holly Owens, 48, of Charles City, was charged with failure to stop at the scene of a accident and reckless driving. She was taken to Riverside Regional Jail and given a secured bond.

Prince George County Police said three students were taken to the hospital March 8 after a bus driver ran off the side of a road and then left the scene with students still on board.

What was supposed to be a routine bus ride to school turned into a nightmare for parent Jamie Westbrook who had two children on the bus at the time of the accident.

“Your heart sinks when you hear your daughter on the other end of the line saying, ‘we’ve been in an accident and I’m hurt,’” Westbrook said.

Holly Owens.
Holly Owens. (Source: Prince George police)

Westbrook said her daughter said it all happened so fast.

“They went into the ditch, and then she was on the floor - she doesn’t have a lot of memory of what happened during the accident,” Westbrook said.

Prince George resident Jason King said his daughter who was also on the bus remembered how the driver reacted.

“The bus driver, per the children, didn’t tell them to be quiet. She told them, as they were in the floor, upset, scared and hurt, to shut up,” King said. “My kid has a possible concussion and a bruised leg.”

Police say the bus was traveling to South Elementary School when it ran into a ditch. The driver was able to get the bus back on the road and continued to the school.

It’s a move Westbrook, a former bus driver for Prince George County Schools, says goes against protocol.

"You are to stop at the nearest, safest place and get help, said Westbrook. “She never radioed in, she just went about her day like usual.”

A busted mailbox is evidence of a crash involving a Prince George County school bus.
A busted mailbox is evidence of a crash involving a Prince George County school bus. (Source: NBC12)

Both Westbrook and King said they may have not known about the incident if it weren’t for their children texting and calling as soon as it happened.

“Transportation had no idea the bus had actually been in an accident until I told them my daughter had called me on the cell phone which really got the ball rolling,” said Westbrook.

Police were contacted about the incident after students were dropped off at the school.

A voice message from the school was later sent to notify all parents of what happened.

“The investigation revealed that the bus struck a mailbox and a culvert pipe before the driver was able to re-position the bus back on the roadway,” Prince George police said in a news release on Friday afternoon.

Three students complained of injuries and were then taken to the hospital, but Westbrook says she and other many parents sought medical attention for their children.

While Westbrook said she’s still proud of the Prince George County Schools system, she’s angered about the actions of one bus driver.

The driver has not been charged.

“She’s hauling the most precious things that there is and that’s children and today that bus driver showed pure negligence,” said King.

“It’s very infuriating being an ex-driver. Every kid that got on my bus was my child,”said Westbrook. “I do believe that the one person who was driving that...bus this morning definitely should not be coming back to county to drive.”

Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.