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Prosecutor: Bus driver high on meth before fatal crash

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The driver of a bus who slammed into the back of a minivan and killed three people back in July has been charged with reckless homicide, authorities say. Prosecutors also say he was high on meth when the crash happened.

Brian L. Hodges, 46, of New Albany, was arrested by Indiana State Police soon after a warrant was issued in Monroe County.

On July 22, 2017, the passenger bus he was driving crashed into a minivan that was stopped near Business 37 and Bayles Road, just north of the Bloomington city limits.

The minivan and other vehicles involved were stopped in a construction zone. The impact created a chain reaction of collisions into other vehicles. The collisions resulted in the deaths of three people and serious bodily injury of three others.

Friends of one of the victims said they were still in disbelief, but felt some comfort knowing Hodges will be charged.

"I'm just glad that the investigators were able to investigate and that the truth has finally come out,"  said Marica White, a friend of victim Shante Lewis. Lewis's husband, Orlando Lewis, Jr., along with his mother-in-law, Rose Pettus, were also all killed in the crash.

An examination of the GPS system in the bus indicates the bus was travelling 65 miles per hour just prior to the collision.

Hodges told deputies he was distracted by ice, looking down, and trying to kick it away, before he looked up and saw the stopped minivan. He submitted a blood sample after the crash, and police say they found amphetamine and methamphetamine in his system.

He has been charged with three counts of causing death while operating a vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance in the blood (level 4 felony); three counts of reckless homicide (level 5 felony); and two counts of causing serious bodily Injury when operating a vehicle with a schedule I or II substance in the body.

Miller Transportation, the company which owned the bus, issued this statement:

The Miller Transportation family is greatly saddened by the loss of life and injuries resulting from this tragic accident and continue to extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the families and friends of all those impacted.

Miller Transportation is a third generation family owned company providing bus service to our friends and neighbors throughout Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan.  With 75 years of safe courteous and professional service Miller Transportation has become woven into the fabric of our community and depended upon by many in their daily activities.

Prior to becoming a Miller Transportation bus operator, applicants must be qualified through a series of test and certifications which include a pre-employment drug test, a commercial driver’s license, physical, driving, background check and a road test administered by the company director of safety.  The hiring process is only the beginning of a safety centric lifestyle required to be a bus operator for Miller Transportation.  Additionally random drug testing is performed at a level exceeding the federal requirements.

Miller Transportation is aware of the widespread use of illegal drugs and the negative effect it has on our families, businesses and safety.  Miller Transportation has a zero tolerance drug policy and provides education and counseling to all our employees regarding drug use.

It is sad and unfortunate that after many years of exemplary service Mr. Hodges succumbed to the use of illegal narcotics despite his extensive training, testing and responsibilities not to do so.  Pursuant to Miller Transportation’s zero tolerance policy, Mr. Hodges was immediately terminated upon learning that he tested positive for illegal drugs and has been referred to treatment professionals for assistance.