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Driver charged in child's bus-stop death sentenced

Posted November 19, 2009

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— A Raleigh woman must pay a $500 fine and give up her driver's license for a year as part of a sentence handed down Thursday in the death of a child at a school-bus stop this summer.

Police charged Geraldine Baron Deitz, 84, with misdemeanor death by vehicle and passing a stopped school bus in connection with 6-year-old Ashley Ramos-Hernandez's Aug. 19 death.

Driver in bus-stop death sentenced Driver in bus-stop death sentenced

Deitz did not plead guilty to the charges but indicated in court that she would not resist any verdict the court might enter.

"There's nothing we can do to help this family pick up the pieces," her attorney, Roger Smith, said. "There's nothing I can say. There's nothing my client can say."

Ramos-Hernandez had gotten off the school bus and was walking across the street at the intersection of North Hills and Hillock drives in Raleigh when, police say, Deitz's Jeep struck her.

In addition to the fine and suspended license, Deitz was also sentenced to 18 months of unsupervised probation and ordered to pay $130 in court costs. If she wants her license reinstated, she must also undergo a medical review.

In a statement read in court, Elena Hernandez described her daughter as having many hopes and dreams, including one of becoming a police officer when she grew up.

She also called for the elderly to be evaluated carefully to determine if they are competent to drive.

"May God forgive you for cutting short the life of my daughter," she said in a letter to Deitz, who cried as the statement was read.

Smith said that since the day of the wreck, his client has been virtually inconsolable and that she has been seeking counseling to deal with her grief.

Deitz also knows her pain pales in comparison to that of Ramos-Hernandez's family, Smith said.

"She feels for the family. She can't describe the pain she feels for the family," he said.

According to the wreck report, Deitz did stop when she thought the bus was going to turn. When it did not, she proceeded. She also told police that the bus did not activate the appropriate signals to indicate that a child was exiting the bus.

Witnesses, however, said the bus activated its signals. A Wake County Public School System spokesman also said lights and stop arms on the bus appeared to have been working properly.

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  • rescuefan Nov 20, 2009

    "That is the second time I've seen on GOLO today that the lady went around the bus. It was my understanding, from the reporting, that she was meeting the bus. Anyone really know?
    wa4mjf"

    Yes, the original story here and in the N&O both said she was traveling in the opposite direction from the bus. The bus was headed basically south and the woman was headed basically north.

  • prettylittleangeleyes Nov 20, 2009

    I think they should investigate whether or not these new buses have a faulty signal mechanism . I have also seen the yellow stick pop out when the kids are halfway in front of the bus. If so, the girls parents could be entitled to damages from the bus co. or whoever is in charge of checking the equipment.

  • prettylittleangeleyes Nov 20, 2009

    Murder should carry a very serious charge. That's why they call it murder and not muckduck! And Tiggerjd3 - If you were my kids bus driver I would be very happy seeing as you're safety conscience. I have thought about just driving my kids to school, but why should I when all I have to do is make sure she is doing her job right? Why just drive my kids to school when other kids might get hurt because of the bus driver? I am wondering about the newer buses though because I never noticed this problem for 2 years until she got a brand spankin new bus. I have mentioned it to the school and the principal. I do think that she should be more aware before she just lets the kids off!

  • RonnieR Nov 19, 2009

    That is the second time I've seen on GOLO today that the lady went around the bus. It was my understanding, from the reporting, that she was meeting the bus. Anyone really know?

  • loyalgirl1111 Nov 19, 2009

    My prayers go out to both families. This was a tragic ACCIDENT that could have happened to any of us. (There but for the grace of God go I!) I pray for healing for all those involved.

  • mtngirldcm Nov 19, 2009

    faceman-she did not "run a sign", and this was more than a "human mistake". I have no doubt this woman feels awful---but the fact is---she went around a stopped school bus. She struck and killed a six year old child who was just trying to go home.
    Just as teenagers should prove their ability to think, process,react and negotiate driving situations, so should older folks. This is not to take away their freedom, it's just smart. It is more an exception than a rule to find an older person who's reflexes and perception are as sharp as they were thirty years ago. Thankfully, ALL of my grandparents had the presence of mind to stop driving---long before most of their peers. They were responsible enough to understand that driving is a privilege. This family has to live the rest of their lives wondering "what if"?

  • actionpat42 Nov 19, 2009

    I work for one of the EMS agencies in Wake. The day they brought that poor girl in, EVERYONE in the whole ER was crying because of this senselessness of this tragedy... this coming from people who see tragedies everyday. Imagine if the perpetrator was DUI or a teenager speeding. She would have gotten the book thrown at her. If she's young enough to drive, she's young enough to do time.

  • hpr641 Nov 19, 2009

    mewuvbb: Simple, your son isn't 84, and unlikely to ever drive again. Also, your son's action (86 in a 55) is an intentional act ... an 84yo missing a bus' lights and sign immediately after rounding a curve, was obviously deemed an unintentional act.

  • Gabby01 Nov 19, 2009

    To the Tarheel fan..........here's the direct quote from CNN, "so she's facing 15 years behind bars for an incident that began with cutting in line."
    Signed,
    Duke fan

  • sona Nov 19, 2009

    I drive by the scene of that accident almost every morning...I am STUNNED that a bus would stop there and expect a 6 year old to walk across that street (even with the lights blaring). There is a blind spot coming from the opposite direction. I am not surprised that this has happened. I sure hope the school system moved the stop to a more visible location.
    Don't be quick to judge, it could happen to any driver....

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