A 19-year-old Kingscreek man has pleaded guilty to charges filed against him after he illegally passed a school bus loaded with students from Cowan Elementary School.
Kelly Matthew Neace entered the guilty plea on the charges of second-degree wanton endangerment and illegally passing a school bus while loading or unloading during his arraignment last week in Letcher District Court. Formal sentencing was scheduled for today (Wednesday) before Judge Kevin R. Mullins.
The Letcher County Sheriff ’s Office filed the charges against Neace on April 3, two days after witnesses said Neace nearly struck a five-year-old kindergarten student who was exiting the stopped bus.
Sheriff ’s Sgt. Barry Engle said the county school bus had stopped in front of Donald Caudill’s residence on KY 931 at Big Cowan around 3:45 p.m. on April 1 when Neace, who was driving a white 2010 Ford F-150 pickup, passed the bus on the right shoulder.
Witnesses told Engle that Donald Caudill’s five-yearold son, Sebastian Caudill, was getting ready to step off of the bus as the truck apparently steered right and went through a church parking lot, Engle said. Bus driver Darlene Maggard and Donald Caudill both screamed for the truck to stop as it veered into the parking lot of the Cowan Chapel about half-mile from the school, Engle said.
Neace was released from the Letcher County Jail after a $5,000 unsecured bond was posted on his behalf. He has been ordered not to drive and not to have any contact with Donald Caudill, who is listed as the complaining witness.
Sheriff Danny Webb said the case points to the need of motorists to pay attention to loading and unloading school buses. Webb asks that anyone who sees an incident such as the one at Cowan to contact the sheriff ’s department at 633- 2293.
“The safety of our children is our primary concern,” said Webb.
Donald Caudill said young Sebastian “ was scared to death” by the incident.