Prosecutors decline to file charge against bus driver

Wednesday, May 8th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(MUSKOGEE) - A Warner school bus driver will not face criminal charges for accidentally running over a 7-year-old boy as the child got off the vehicle at a bus stop.

``It's absolutely tragic,'' David Pierce, first assistant district attorney, said Tuesday. ``I don't feel prosecution will do justice.''

James Allen Goodreau, a Warner second-grader, died April 17 on the road in front of his home when bus driver Phil Ross pulled away after dropping off the boy and two of his siblings after school.

Prosecutors received a report on the accident from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Pierce said in the report, Ross said he believed all the children were clear of the bus when he drove away that day.

He looked in both side mirrors and saw no children, and also believed he saw three children walking away from the vehicle, the report stated.

But the boy was in front of the bus, where he couldn't be seen over the hood, Pierce said. Ross, unaware the bus had hit James Goodreau, continued to drive his route until authorities caught up with him later.

James Goodreau died at the scene.

``I'm glad,'' James' mother, Candy Goodreau, said after hearing prosecutors' decision. ``If they filed charges against him, we'd have to go to court, and the justice system takes so long ... when you start to heal, that just puts the healing process back.''

Ross also lives in Warner, a small town about 20 miles southeast of Muskogee.

The boy's family is considering whether to take legal action against the Warner school district over James' death.

School officials have declined comment about ongoing communications between the district's insurance company and the Goodreau family.