Driver of church bus in deadly crash charged with vehicular homicide

The driver in last week’s deadly church bus crash in Fulton County, which killed a 17-year-old girl from Alabama, was a member of the church and has been charged with second-degree vehicular homicide, officials said.

Jerry Sims was also charged with failure to maintain lane, according to Fulton County police and a statement from Sims’ lawyer.

“These charges are misdemeanor traffic offenses because neither drugs nor alcohol were involved in the accident,” his lawyer, Jason Swindle Sr. said in the statement. “Jerry, who is still recovering in the hospital, has received nothing but love and support from the families affected by the accident and the fellowship of the entire Christian community."

In an interview, Swindle added that Sims is a member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., and was a volunteer bus driver for the church.

“It’s a horrible tragedy, and we are praying for everybody involved here,” Swindle said, declining to comment further.

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The church did not respond to requests for comment.

A group of teens and adults from Mt. Zion were on their way to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for a mission trip to Botswana last Thursday afternoon when the bus crashed and overturned on Camp Creek Parkway, killing 17-year-old Sarah Harmening and injuring dozens of other bus passengers.

MORE: Teen killed in Fulton County church bus crash; dozens injured

In a press conference last week, police said the bus, traveling east, attempted to change into the right lane on Camp Creek Parkway, and collided with a Chrysler 200. This caused Sims to steer left, according to police; the bus then entered the median and flipped over onto a black Mercedes, which was traveling in the opposite direction.

The drivers of the two cars went to the hospital, but had been discharged before Friday afternoon.

One other bus passenger remained at Grady Hospital Thursday afternoon, a hospital spokeswoman said. 

An injured passenger was discharged from Atlanta Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon, according to an AMC spokeswoman.

The investigation into the deadly crash is ongoing, Fulton County police Cpl. Patrena Smith said. She did not know whether further charges could be pending against Sims or anyone else involved.

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