Driver charged in child's bus-stop death sentenced
Posted November 19, 2009 12:11 p.m. EST
Updated November 19, 2009 6:52 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.
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.