Clark County judge won’t move case of minivan driver in fatal school bus crash

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

A judge has denied the lawyer’s request for the case of minivan driver involved in a school bus crash in which one child died and dozens more were injured to be heard outside of Clark County.

Lawyer Terry Hart had requested the change to give Hermanio Joseph, 35, a fair trial in front of an impartial jury, but Common Pleas Court Judge Douglas Ratstatter wrote that there is “no reason to believe that a fair and impartial trial cannot be held in Clark County,” overruling the motion.

Ratstatter also wrote that the court is open to reconsideration if it becomes apparent during jury selection that “a fair and impartial trial cannot be held in Clark County.”

Hart said in the previous motion the “media saturation” and other publicity has made it “impossible to seat an impartial jury” in Clark County.

“The self-evident conclusion is that this county has been so saturated with media coverage tainted with alleged ‘facts’ and opinions, that it is impossible for (Joseph) to receive a fair trial before a jury composed of impartial persons who should learn of the case only through the evidence properly admitted during trial,” Hart wrote. “The only recourse is a change of venue.”

Joseph is charged with fourth-degree felony vehicular homicide and first-degree felony involuntary manslaughter.

Investigators said Joseph was driving a 2010 Honda Odyssey about 8:15 a.m. Aug. 22 on Troy Road (Ohio 41) at Lawrenceville when his minivan went left of the center line into the path of an oncoming school bus with 52 students and the driver aboard.

The bus driver attempted to avoid the Honda by driving onto the shoulder, but the bus still collided with the minivan. The bus and van went off the side of the road, with the bus rolling over.

Aiden Clark, 11, was ejected and died on the scene, and another student suffered life-threatening injuries but later was released from the hospital. About two dozen more children were injured and taken to area medical centers for treatment.

Joseph presented to law enforcement a driver’s license from Mexico, which was invalid due to his immigration status. He also had an Ohio identification card. Joseph is registered as a Haitian immigrant in the state of Florida.

About the Author