Kwasny Case Goes to Grand Jury
Student Testified, Scared for her Life...
By: Pat Hunter
March 18, 2009
The courtroom was mostly empty except for the press and a few people. In a matter of about 2-hours, the Court heard testimony from four witnesses in the preliminary hearing held in General Sessions Court. Vicky Lynn Kwasny's case will now go to the grand jury.
Former school bus driver Vicky Lynn Kwasny drove Loudon County Bus 9 on September 30, 2008. She was arrested and she was charged with child reckless endangerment and DUI by alcohol or drugs allegedly occurring on September 30, 2008. Attorney Gary Fox responded that Vicky Lynn Kwasny would plead not guilty.
First on the witness stand for the prosecution was a high school student. The student helped the bus driver and that day the bus driver needed help with direction of the route itself. She was asked if the student thought the bus driver was sick; the student thought that she seemed messed up on something.
During the course of the bus ride 9, the bus swerved into the other lane. The bus driver purportedly drove erratically and fast at times. The bus driver would allegedly pass up school students waiting for the bus and the kids would yell and she would slam on the breaks.
She was scared and didn't know if she was going to live or not, the student testified.
Attorney Fox questioned the student repeatedly about the sequence of events and her memory of the bus ride. She was also asked if the student was making up stories about what happened and the student replied, no. Why didn't you get off the bus if you thought that you were going to die? The student didn't want to leave her.
Second witness on the stand for the prosecution was Loudon County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Gordon Harless. Harless was on his way to work when he observed the bus stopped with its emergency lights. Harless signaled the bus driver and asked her if she was ok but she was slow to respond. The bus driver just looked and him and was slow to respond and slow in pronunciation, "lethargic." He observed about 30 children getting off the school bus hurriedly in a panic state. He thought that she was suffering from low blood sugar but she admitted to using Soma, a muscle relaxer, which was prescribed.
Loudon City Detective and evidence custodian Mike Newman testified about the evidence procedure and how it worked and who got copies of the report.
Loudon City Officer Dwayne Williams also gave testimony. Officer Williams was dispatched to Blairland Baptist Church where he found the bus driver sitting on the step of the bus. She could not stand on her own. She did not know the date or the name of the President. Three different substances and three different levels were found. Defense Attorney Gary Fox questioned officer Williams about the science and therapeutic limits of the various drugs and what affects they should have a person. The officer did not know but he maintained that she was so impaired that she was not able to stand on her own. Attorney Fox also questioned the officer about taking the bus driver to hospital and reading her rights to her and obtaining her consent for the drug test. Did you explain the consequences to her, Fox asked, yes the officer replied. She agreed to the test.
He was also asked, who came to the hospital and he replied co-workers from school. The State then rested their case.
Attorney Fox called Bus owner Scott Franks as a witness for the defense. He was going to ask questions about the ability to drive the routes and how the children act or react. That would not negate probable cause about how she was driving. The Court gave examples of the type of testimony that was allowed so Frank's testimony was not allowed.
Attorney Fox summarized that Kwasny had no alcohol contents in her blood. She was taking a medication and there was no testimony about the therapeutic limits to indicate that levels in her system that would have caused someone to be under the influence. Gordon Harless testified that in his opinion, she acted as someone from low blood sugar and medical emergency. Only the testimony that she acted in such a way that appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol would cause someone to be under the influence. There was no proof whatsoever to indicate that she had anything in her system other than medication of some sort.
The State mentioned that they had met the limits and asked that the case be bound to the grand jury. The Court took into consideration the testimony. She was driving in an erratic manner passing up children and the children were hollering and got off the school bus. She was under the influence of something that she could barely stand up. Kwasny's case was bound to the grand jury. She remains free on bond.