Brenda Gray, the driver of the school bus that crashed in September 2012 and 27 David Crockett students were sent to the hospital. (Becky Campbell/Johnson City Press)
The former Washington County school bus driver charged with injuring 39 student riders when she crashed on a county road last year was slated to plead guilty Wednesday, but the case hit another delay.
Brenda Gray, 55, of Jonesborough, appeared before Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp with her new attorney, Cliff Corker. He took the case without pay after Gray’s original attorney, Michael LaGuardia, died just days before she was supposed to plead guilty in July.
Corker asked Cupp for a delay so he could be sure there were no other resolution possibilities that LaGuardia might not have considered. Specifically, Corker wants to find an accident reconstruction expert to review the Tennessee Highway Patrol report on the crash.
Gray is charged with 39 counts of reckless aggravated assault in connection to the September 2012 crash.
The wreck happened around 3 p.m. on Mount Wesley Road just a short time after Gray left David Crockett High 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.
Tennessee Highway Patrol traffic investigators determined Gray was speeding and at fault for the crash.
Corker said he thinks a review of the original report could show Gray was not driving as fast as investigators have estimated.
Civil actions related to the crash are still pending. The county school system’s insurance provider paid $700,000 into the court to be dispersed among the injured students. That is the most the school system is required to pay because of statutory limits provided by state law to protect governmental bodies from lawsuits.
Gray is free on bond while her case is pending. She is scheduled back in court Dec. 3.