Hermanio Joseph, 35, of Springfield, is charged with vehicular homicide – a fourth-degree felony – after one elementary school student died when Joseph’s minivan allegedly veered into the left lane causing a school bus to crash on State Route 41 at 8:12 a.m. Tuesday.
He appeared at an arraignment hearing Thursday morning in Clark County Municipal Court. If convicted, he could face six to 12 months in prison and pay a fine of up to $5,000.
Judge Daniel Carey issued a $100,000 cash or surety bond and Joseph will have a bond review hearing on Monday. Carey entered a not-guilty plea for Joseph, who requested a continuance and a court-appointed attorney through an interpreter.
Joseph is accused of driving a minivan that crossed the center lane while nearing a curve and drove into the path of a school bus, whose driver swerved to the right to avoid the collision. The vehicles still struck each other, and the bus went off the road and down an embankment, flipping over on its top.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol said 26 students were hospitalized, including one who was taken to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. One student, Aiden Clark, was ejected from the bus and pronounced dead at the scene.
It was the students’ first day of school in the Northwestern Local School District.
It was determined Joseph was driving without a valid license and his immigration status is not immediately clear. Carey told Joseph that if he posts bond he must wear a GPS ankle monitor and not leave Clark County.
Assistant Prosecutor Attorney Greg Morris said the office could file additional charges when it presents its case in front of a grand, which is expected to take place Monday.
Joseph and his passenger suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the crash while the 68-year-old bus driver suffered minor injuries and was not hospitalized.
The school district announced that school will not be in session Thursday, but staff members will report to work for training to help support students upon their return Friday.