Impaired Trucker Who Crashed Into Disabled School Bus Faces 100 Years in Prison
Columbia County, WI – On Thursday, a trucker from Indiana was found guilty on 30 charges stemming from a 2018 accident in which he drove his semi-truck into a disabled school bus, injuring at least 20 people on board, most of whom were children.
The accident occurred in the morning hours of May 23, 2018 as truck driver Wayne Murphy, 43, of Indianapolis, was traveling northbound on Interstate 39 in the town of Arlington.
According to documents from the Wisconsin State Patrol (WSP), officials received a call from a representative from North Dakota-based carrier, Dahl Trucking, around 10 a.m. reporting the company had received complaints about one of their trucks — driven by Murphy.
Minutes after WSP reported receiving the call from the Dahl employee, Murphy’s truck crashed into a disabled school bus, belonging to HOPE Christian School: Semper.
Authorities said the bus pulled over to the right shoulder after experiencing engine issues.
According to the accident report, Murphy was near mile marker 123 and “said he was traveling in the right lane when he saw the school bus stopped on the shoulder about a quarter-mile ahead of him.”
Murphy told investigators he “tried to swerve to the left to avoid the school bus but the passenger side of his truck and trailer hit the bus.”
Officials reported 20 of the 33 people on board — many of whom were students — were injured in the crash.
Four of the injuries were reported as serious.
According to FOX6, a representative from Dahl said Murphy had only been on the road for an hour before the crash.
Murphy said he was headed to Regina, Canada from South Beloit, IL.
He denied drinking the day of the accident, but admitted to taking prescription anti-anxiety medication.
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He was arrested for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) and has been in the Columbia County Jail since the accident, where he remained on a $35,000 bail.
Murphy’s trial began on August 12 and concluded on August 15, when a Columbia County jury found him guilty on 30 charges, including second-degree causing reckless injury and injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle.
Each count could bring up to 12 and a half years in prison, according to sentencing guidelines.
Murphy is now facing over 100 years in prison along with $260,000 in fines.
During the trial, Murphy said he took Xanax and Zoloft the day of the collision.
He stated he didn’t believe he took enough to affect his driving ability.
“I didn’t take enough to try to get high on it or whatever,” Murphy said during the hearing.
“The reason this crash happened is obvious,” Assistant Attorney General Tara Jenswold argued during the trial.
“It’s because [Murphy] drove impaired under the influence of his alprazolam and his sertaline and he drove recklessly that day and he slammed into that bus and he changed those kids’ lives forever.”
During the trial, Jenswold described Murphy’s truck as an “80,000-pound missile.”
According to the Portage Daily Register, the jury deliberated just over an hour and a half before returning the guilty verdict.
Murphy was taken back to the Columbia County Jail after the verdict, where he will remain until his sentencing.
Photos courtesy of Fox6
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