Former Washington County school bus driver Brenda Gray, charged in a rollover bus crash that injured 39 David Crockett High School students, was indicted Tuesday by a grand jury on more serious charges than she previously faced.
The indictment against Gray, 54, of Jonesborough, was turned in to the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office just before 5 p.m. after the grand jury completed a full day of hearing cases. The panel charged Gray with 39 counts of reckless aggravated assault — the charge had previously been eight counts of reckless aggravated assault for the most seriously injured students and 31 counts of felony reckless endangerment for the other students — and one count each of speeding and reckless driving.
The higher charges increase the jail time Gray could face if convicted because reckless aggravated assault is a higher class felony than felony reckless endangerment.
The wreck happened around 3 p.m. Sept. 20 on Mount Wesley Road just a short time after Gray left the school. Investigators believe she was driving between 52 and 60 mph — nearly twice the 30 mph speed limit — when she went off the left side, then overcorrected and went off the right side of the road. The bus then turned over and rolled once as it slid to a stop.
Gray’s high school-age son was one of the students on the bus with less serious injuries.
A state trooper said Gray reported she was distracted by students just before she ran off the road. Students on the bus reported that Gray asked if they wanted to “lose their stomachs,” as the bus topped a hill just before the wreck.
If convicted, Gray — who has no prior criminal history — would face two to four years on each felony count. The full sentence range is two to 12 years, but the higher sentences only apply to a person with previous convictions.
She had previously faced one to two years on the reckless aggravated assault charges.
Gray is free on a $50,000 bond and has a date in Criminal Court Jan. 22.