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Driver of Douglass school bus that went into creek seeking diversion

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, April 1, 2014, at 5:47 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at 12:36 p.m.

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The driver of a Douglass school bus that went into a creek last fall is seeking a diversion agreement on misdemeanor criminal charges, attorneys said Tuesday.

Morris “Joe” Peterson was set to go to trial Wednesday on charges of child endangerment and reckless driving. Gail Jensen, Peterson’s attorney, said he has reached an agreement with the Butler County attorney’s office that the case “will be disposed on a diversion agreement” but nothing has been finalized.

“It hasn’t been executed and submitted to court,” Jensen said. “I’m pretty confident it will be resolved, but nothing is final until the signatures are on the dotted line.”

Butler County Attorney Darrin Devinney said he knew one of his assistants and Peterson had discussed a diversion.

The terms of the proposed diversion agreement are fairly standard, meaning that the case will be dismissed in six months to a year if Peterson doesn’t break any laws, Jensen said.

Peterson, 64, pleaded not guilty in January to charges that resulted from an incident on Oct. 31.

Ten children were aboard the bus when it was pushed off the road by high water and landed on its side in swollen Muddy Creek as Peterson tried to cross a low-water bridge, according to a Kansas Highway Patrol accident report.

The only child who was injured was treated and released the same day from a hospital. Peterson is no longer employed as a driver for the Douglass school district.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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