The woman accused of driving past a stopped school bus in northern Indiana Tuesday told investigators she didn't see the school bus or the children in the path of her pickup truck until it was too late.
"She couldn't make out what it was and by the time she realized ... the kids were right there in front of her," Indiana State Police Detective Michelle Jumper testified at a probable cause hearing in Fulton Superior Court Tuesday.
Prosecutors said Alyssa Shepherd, 24, struck and killed twins Xzavier and Mason Ingle, both 6, and their sister Alivia Stahl, 9, as they were crossing the highway to board their school bus about 7:15 a.m. near 4600 North Ind. 25, north of Rochester in Fulton County.
Maverik Lowe, 11, was airlifted to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne with critical injuries and multiple broken bones. On Wednesday, a statement from his parents listed his condition as stable.
The court on Thursday provided IndyStar with an audio recording of the hearing in which Jumper testified that she interviewed Shepherd, the school bus driver and a witness.
Jumper said Shepherd was driving with three children in the back seat of her Toyota Tacoma. She had just dropped off her husband at work about 7:05 a.m. and was heading to her mother's home in the Rochester area to drop off her little brother when she rounded a bend on Ind. 25.
"She said she came around that corner, saw that there was something with lights, she just knew it was something big and had lights," Jumper said. "She did not recognize it in any way as a school bus."
Another vehicle was following Shepherd's Toyota through the bend on Ind. 25, Jumper testified. That witness said the school bus lights and stop arm were clearly visible even though the road was dark.
The witness said she and Shepherd were traveling at 45 mph. The witness said she slowed when she saw the school bus and its blinking lights.
"She said she started to slow down and realized the truck in front of her was not slowing down," Jumper testified.
"She said the truck's headlights illuminated the children as they were crossing the road and she said she started to freak out as she realized 'I'm slowing down, but that truck in front of me is not slowing.'"
Jumper testified that the school bus driver said he stopped at the same spot where he always picks up the children. She said the driver told investigators he saw the headlights around the bend, but they were far back and had plenty of time to slow, so he waved to the children, telling them to cross.
The bus driver leaned on the horn when it was clear the truck wasn't stopping, Jumper said.
Shepherd was charged Tuesday with three counts of reckless homicide and a misdemeanor count of passing a school bus when a signal arm is extended, court records show.
She was booked into the Fulton County Jail and released after posting $15,000 bond. No hearing date has been scheduled.