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3 kids killed walking to bus in Fulton County, driver bonded out of jail; court date set

6-year-old twin boys Xzavier and Mason Ingle and their 9-year-old sister Alivia Stahl // Photo provided by family

UPDATE: Alyssa Shepherd has been bonded out of jail, according to an officer. He says Shepherd will be in court November 13 at 8:30 a.m.

Four kids were hit by a pickup while crossing the street Tuesday morning to board a Tippecanoe Valley school bus. Three of them died and the fourth had to be airlifted to the hospital in critical condition, say police.

The deceased are twin 6-year-old boys and their 9-year-old sister. The 11-year-old who was airlifted is not related to the three who died.

The names of those involved in the crash have been released. The 6-year-old twin boys who died are Xzavier and Mason Ingle. Their 9-year-old sister is Alivia Stahl.

The 11-year-boy who was airlifted to the hospital is Maverik Lowe.

The driver of the pickup truck who hit those four children is 24-year-old Alyssa Shepherd of Rochester. Police say there were children in the truck with Shepherd at the time of the crash.

Indiana State Police arrested her at her place of employment in Rochester, IN around 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Shepherd is charged with three counts of reckless homicide and one count of passing a school bus when arm signal device is extended, causing bodily injury.

The driver of the school bus works for Tippecanoe Valley Schools and is named Robert Reid. Officers could not give us his age.

We are told the kids went to Mentone Elementary.

It happened around 7 a.m. on State Road 25, just north of Rochester. S.R. 25 was closed between C.R. 400 and 500 N.



Here is what police have told us so far:

- The bus was stopped and children were crossing the street from a mobile home park when the vehicle hit four kids, killing three.

- The fourth child was airlifted to a Fort Wayne hospital and is in critical condition.

- The bus had its arm out and the pickup driver failed to stop.

- There were three kids on the bus at the time of the crash.

- Police don’t know if the pickup was speeding.

- The pickup driver, a woman around 24-year-old, remained on scene.

- The driver has been charged with three counts of reckless homicide and one count of passing a school bus when arm signal device is extended causing bodily injury.

While there is no preliminary finding that drugs or alcohol were involved, the pickup driver will undergo a blood test.

Police say early indications show that the school bus driver did everything he or she should have done when stopping to pick up kids.

“I just can’t imagine that pain," said Sgt. Tony Slocum, Indiana State Police. "I haven’t seen troopers cry in a long time, but I saw that today. Our hearts just break for him and his family and it’s just a terrible situation we’re having to deal with. But we’ll do the best we can and our prayers go out to those family members.”

Superintendent Doug Carter with ISP says today has been extremely hard for his officers.

“It’s not normal,” he says, to see twin brothers dead on a roadway.

“Part of us died today too,” said Carter. “Just like you guys and gals, we’re all human beings right? We do things like this by choice, it’s our chosen profession. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t cry and we don’t hurt. And we don’t go home and wonder what we’ve done with our lives and why we do what we do."

Slocum and Carter say they spent hours at the scene Tuesday trying to make sure they did everything right. Trying to make sure they get answers for the parents four little kids who were just trying to go to school.

“Just because were leaving doesn’t mean we’re done. What that means is we’re leaving, we’re just getting started,” said Carter.

WSBT 22 spoke with a woman who lives on State Road 25.

“It was not knowing what had happened and how everyone was for a half hour that was terrifying,” said Tamora Mejia.

Tamora Mejia's daughter was on that bus the children were trying to board.

“I didn’t really know them that well, but smiles on their face whenever I saw them,” said Mejia. “They were always good kids.”

Loss of students killed felt at Mentone Elementary:

People have been going in and out of Mentone Elementary all morning.

One of the pastors told WSBT 22 he had been counseling students there to help them deal with their grief.

We’ve been told by people leaving the building that the superintendent and another clergy member are at the elementary.

The flag was at half staff, but has now been completely taken down. An outward reminder that this school is missing three students.

“I don’t know," said Jackie Bradley, guardian to children that attend Mentone Elementary. "I don’t know what to tell them. They’ve lost their friends. Their kids. It’s not right."

Bradley raises children that attend school at Mentone Elementary.

“I have three other grandchildren that are best friends with the three that died and the one that was airlifted,” said Bradley.

Her grandchildren ride the bus every single day with the students that died. In fact, they are the very next bus stop.

“Everyone is upset. Sick. Sad. Very quiet,” said Bradley.

We spoke with a neighbor that runs a daycare beside the school and also has grandchildren that attend there. She says a loss like this makes you think about your family.

“We’re just devastated and I’ve lost a child," said Judy Smith. "I can’t imagine what these families are going to go through, it’s just heartbreaking. It’s scary. My grandchildren and none of these children ride the bus, but what if it was them? It makes you stop and think."

She doesn’t know how she’s going to explain this to the children she watches after school.

“It’s hard enough as adults to process something like this," said Smith. "It’s going to be impossible for children to ever comprehend what this loss is going to be for them."

Jackie says this accident will have an impact on her grandchildren for years to come.

“They are well loved and it’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of patience. And they might have nightmares for a while,” said Bradley.

Statements:

The following statement was issued by Tippecanoe Valley Schools:

Our school corporation has suffered a tragedy this morning. We have learned of three student fatalities and one student seriously injured and airlifted to a Fort Wayne hospital as they were hit by a vehicle while boarding their bus.
We have deployed all school counselors to meet the emotional needs of our staff, students and parents.
We are awaiting to learn more confirmed details but wish to ask the community to come together to pray for the families, our students and our staff.

Governor Holcomb issued the following statement:

“Words cannot express the depth of sorrow Janet and I feel, which only pales in comparison to what family, friends, teachers, classmates and community are feeling right now. Today, and for many more to come, we mourn their loss. I ask Hoosiers around the state to join us by sending your deepest prayers for the strength needed to endure such a time.”

Go Fund Me:

A spokesperson for Go Fund Me has confirmed that this is the official fundraiser for the three children who were killed yesterday: https://bit.ly/2Jsikyd

Thy also confirmed that this is the official fundraising page for Maverik Lowe who survived and is recovering in a Fort Wayne hospital: https://bit.ly/2RujXOJ

Both campaigns are trending and have raised thousands of dollars for both families impacted by this tragedy.



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