A Fairfax County judge dismissed criminal charges yesterday against a District man who was driving a county school bus carrying 27 children when it collided with a truck and plunged down an embankment.
Edward Hall, 23, of 1450 Q St. NW had been charged with reckless driving at a speed unsafe for conditions and with driving on a suspended license in the Oct. 22 collision that seriously injured himself and two of the children on the bus.
Hall, who was released on personal recognizance after his arrest, was suspended without pay from his job with the county school system pending the outcome of his case.
"The dismissal of the legal charges doesn't mean that he necessarily has his job back," school spokeswoman Dolores Bohen said yesterday. "There would have to be a hearing."
Hall's attorney, Robert M. Alexander, successfully argued that no evidence of speed was presented during yesterday's trial, nor was there any evidence that Hall had been notified that his D.C. driver's license had been suspended.
General District Court Judge Thomas J. Rothrock agreed, asking Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Brett Kassabian: "Where's your evidence of speed? We have 27 witnesses; where are they? You've got 27 witnesses out there somewhere," he said, referring to the Cooper Intermediate School students who were riding Hall's bus.
"We don't feel we have to show how fast he was going," answered Kassabian, pointing to evidence that Hall was traveling west on a winding, rain-slick section of Georgetown Pike in the Great Falls area when the bus crossed the double center line, collided with a county-owned truck and fell 20 feet. Ten other children and the truck driver incurred minor injuries.
The truck driver, Russell Drummer, 24, testified yesterday but did not say how fast Hall was going, nor did the driver of a car traveling behind the truck at the time of the 2:30 p.m. crash.
Another witness, an investigator with the state Division of Motor Vehicles, testified that upon application for a Virginia driver's license and a special permit to drive a school bus, Hall had checked the boxes on the applications indicating that he had no out-of-state license, that he had no previous convictions and that his license had never been suspended.
But Rothrock again agreed with Alexander that there was no proof presented that Hall was aware that his license had been suspended.
"He's sorry the accident happened," Alexander said of his client after the trial ended. "We are delighted that he came out okay."
Had Hall been convicted, he could have received a maximum of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine on each of the misdemeanor charges, Alexander said.