SCHOOL BUS DRIVER CONVICTED OF CHILD ABUSE AND ENDANGERMENT FOR INJURING STUDENTS AFTER PASSING OUT BEHIND THE WHEEL AND CRASHING INTO TREES

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A former school bus driver was convicted of child abuse and endangerment for causing severe injuries to students by passing out behind the wheel and crashing into several trees.

Defendant Charges Maximum Sentence Court Date
Gerald Douglas Rupple, 28, Ajo, Ariz. Pleaded guilty on June 15, 2018 to the following felony counts:

  • (11) Child abuse and endangerment
  • Perjury by declaration

Sentencing Enhancement (Admitted):

  • (4) Causing great bodily injury
26 years and four months in state prison Sentencing

Oct. 19, 2018, 9:00 a.m.

Department C-41, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

  • At approximately 3:40 p.m. on April 24, 2014, Rupple drove a school bus for the Orange Unified School District (OUSD) and transported a group of 11 El Rancho Charter Middle School students in Anaheim Hills.
  • The defendant passed out behind the wheel while driving approximately 50 miles per hour, causing the school bus to veer off the road and crash into several trees.
  • All of the students received injuries to varying degrees. Four of the students sustained major injuries including fractured bones, intra-cranial hemorrhaging, a shattered spine, and amputation of a toe.
  • At the time of the crash, Rupple had a medical condition that caused dizziness, seizures, and blackouts.
  • The defendant did not disclose his medical history to OUSD knowing that it would negatively affect his employment.
  • Rupple did not disclose his medical condition to the physician conducting his required commercial driver fitness examination and falsely declared under penalty of perjury that his medical history was accurate.
  • Rupple was arrested in Arizona on Jan. 8, 2015, and was transported back to Orange County by the California Highway Patrol, who investigated the case.

Prosecutor: Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Kirk, Special Prosecutions Unit

*First plea entered via video conferencing in Orange County history

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 15NF0005 / June 18, 2018

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