Truesee's Daily Wonder

Truesee presents the weird, wild, wacky and world news of the day.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Mother charged with unlawfully entering school bus to help a son she thought was ill

Perry County mother charged with unlawfully entering school bus to help a son she thought was ill


Saturday, July 23, 2011, 12:00 AM

The Patriot-News

If Tara Keener had known that her 5-year-old son was only sleeping, she might not have acted this way.
But Keener, an emergency room nurse, didn’t know. All she knew was what she could see through the windows of a big yellow school bus as she walked down her Perry County driveway. Other kids were standing over the kindergartner’s assigned seat, yelling that Xander was slumped over.

school bus.JPG
“Help, he’s not moving,” she recalled during a recent court hearing. “We can’t wake him up.”
So she ran to the bus, up the steps and to the landing. The driver told her she couldn’t get on the bus. It’s against the law.
Keener kept going. “My focus was on my son,” she told a judge.
What happened on that bus Dec. 15 has earned Keener a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully entering a school bus. She’s now awaiting trial in Perry County Court.
The bus company remembers the story a little differently, and reported the incident — as they are required by law — to the state police because the driver asked Keener to leave the bus and she refused.
They say no one was screaming ‘help,’ that Xander was sleeping, like he had before and the driver wasn’t given enough time to handle the situation herself.
“Everyone’s focused on, he wasn’t really sick,” said Keener’s attorney Jeffrey B. Engle. “How do you know that? He could be choking on a Jolly Rancher. I can hop a fence to save someone who is drowning, even if it says ‘Keep Out’ if the harm sought to be avoided is greater than the possible violation of the crime.”
Engle would not allow Keener to comment for this story because of her pending court case.
At a June 15 preliminary hearing, Keener testified that older kids were hovering over Xander when she got on the bus.
“They moved away and looked at me like they were scared and said they couldn’t wake him,” she testified. “I had to physically shake him vigorously to wake him.”
Keener never thought this would land her in court, Engle says. After all, she and her husband had boarded a school bus with their son before as part of a program to help kids get over their fears in the first few days of school.
And days after the incident, a trooper told her she wasn’t going to be charged.
Then almost five months later Keener received a notice in the mail: She was facing a third-degree misdemeanor — an offense that lead to jail for a year, and a $2,500 fine.
Why the delay? Perry County District Attorney Charles F. Chenot III — who initially said this was one of those situations that could go either way — said he changed his mind after a conversation with Pamala Schaeffer, the assistant to Dennis Dum. Dum’s Bus Service is contracted by West Perry Schools to transport all district children to school each day.
“The bus company’s main point is, we can’t let one person do this because pretty soon you’ll have all kinds of parents on there,” Chenot said. “Most parents aren’t a problem, but what do you do when a ... sex offender wants to get on the bus and get his kids off? We need to have that protection in place.”
Here’s where things get a little murky.
Schaeffer remembers the conversation differently. She said she had no intention of persuading the county’s top prosecutor and says she was just as shocked when she got a call in April notifying her that Keener had been charged.
“I was completely dumfounded, because we thought it was resolved,” she said. “I wasn’t looking to convince him to change his mind,” she said. “I was just asking for my own personal education to know from Mr. Chenot, what determines good cause.”
Schaeffer said she sympathizes with Keener’s situation, but felt she was simply doing her job: reporting a violation on a school bus.
Chenot stands firm in his belief that bus company was the driving force.
“It was the result of the conversation with the bus company that we ended up moving forward with the charges,” he said.
Chenot, seeing the gray area, offered Keener ARD, a probationary program designed to allow a defendant to eventually wipe their record clean. But Engle said he is worried that might jeopardize her job as a nurse with the Pinnacle Health System. Plus, he said, she doesn’t think she did anything wrong.
So the case will probably go before a jury.
Parents try to board school buses all the time. Almost none of them know that there’s a law against it. But most parents also get off the bus once the driver tells them it’s illegal and those parents aren’t charged. It was because Keener ignored that request that she was reported.
“I’m a mom too, I have three kids. Whose to say how any one of us would react in a situation where we thought our kids were in danger?” Schaeffer said. “... If we have one parent clearly let off the hook, for lack of a better word, how does the next parent not say ... I’ll just give a good reason? Where do you draw the line?”
At the preliminary hearing, bus driver Melissa Wright testified that she had asked two older children — in third and fourth grades — to wake Xander when they got to the stop on Greenbriar Road.
Before anyone had time to act, Keener had raced onto the bus, she said.
Xander had fallen asleep before, and Wright testified, “I didn’t have any thing to think that there was a medical emergency.”
Wright denies the other kids were yelling, ‘help,’ but says Keener had a foul-mouthed exchange with the driver as she took her son from the bus.
Keener denies using profanity.
The next day Keener called Schaeffer and unsuccessfully lobbied for Wright to be fired. She was upset that the driver didn’t act quickly enough. The bus company said she never had the chance.
“Mrs. Keener just did not give the driver the time she needed to take care of the situation,” Schaeffer said. “According to our driver it happened, like seconds. We train the drivers in how to handle a situation. Not all are CPR certified, but this driver is a (certified nurse assistant), certified in CPR and works with patients daily at another job. She has been doing that for several years.”
One thing is agreed: Keener didn’t touch any other kids, or do anything besides wake Xander.
And no one disputes that Keener really believed her son could be in danger.
That’s why Engle says the charge just doesn’t make sense. Don’t we all wish for hindsight, he asks.
“I’m not budging,” Engle said. “I think the bus company is driving this, no pun intended and I think they’re overreaching. I just don’t seen 12 people convicting this woman.”

Looks like the school district is trying to make a fast buck on this case.($2,500.00). Judge Judy would throw the book at them and throw the case out.
Post a Comment

<< Home


June 2021   May 2021   April 2021   March 2021   February 2021   January 2021   December 2020   November 2020   October 2020   September 2020   August 2020   July 2020   June 2020   May 2020   April 2020   March 2020   February 2020   January 2020   December 2019   November 2019   October 2019   September 2019   August 2019   July 2019   June 2019   May 2019   April 2019   March 2019   February 2019   January 2019   December 2018   November 2018   October 2018   September 2018   August 2018   July 2018   June 2018   May 2018   April 2018   March 2018   February 2018   January 2018   December 2017   November 2017   October 2017   September 2017   August 2017   July 2017   June 2017   May 2017   April 2017   March 2017   February 2017   January 2017   December 2016   November 2016   October 2016   September 2016   August 2016   July 2016   June 2016   May 2016   April 2016   March 2016   February 2016   January 2016   December 2015   November 2015   October 2015   September 2015   August 2015   July 2015   June 2015   May 2015   April 2015   March 2015   February 2015   January 2015   December 2014   November 2014   October 2014   September 2014   August 2014   July 2014   June 2014   May 2014   April 2014   March 2014   February 2014   January 2014   December 2013   November 2013   October 2013   September 2013   August 2013   July 2013   June 2013   May 2013   April 2013   March 2013   February 2013   January 2013   December 2012   November 2012   October 2012   September 2012   August 2012   July 2012   June 2012   May 2012   April 2012   March 2012   February 2012   January 2012   December 2011   November 2011   October 2011   September 2011   August 2011   July 2011   June 2011   May 2011   April 2011   March 2011   February 2011   January 2011   December 2010   November 2010   October 2010   September 2010   August 2010   July 2010   June 2010   May 2010   April 2010   March 2010   February 2010   January 2010   December 2009   November 2009   October 2009   September 2009   August 2009   July 2009   June 2009   May 2009   April 2009   March 2009   February 2009   January 2009   December 2008  

Powered by Lottery PostSyndicated RSS FeedSubscribe