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ROCHESTER, Ind. (WISH) — An 18-month-old boy died after he was found in a residential pond Monday afternoon, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

The boy’s name was not released. A preliminary investigation found the drowning to be accidental. An autopsy will be done Tuesday morning.

Emergency medical crews were sent to a report of a toddler in a pond about 4:25 p.m. Monday at a home on Lakeview Bend. That’s less than a mile west of Rochester, and northeast of the intersection of U.S. 31 and State Road 14.

A neighbor, who was not identified, went into the pond to save the toddler, the release said. The emergency medical crews arrived to find “life saving measures” being done on the child, who died at Woodlawn Hospital.

ROCHESTER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Rochester-based Acument Global Technologies says it will permanently close its facility in the Fulton County city. In a notice to the state, the company says the move will result in the layoffs of nearly 60 employees.

The company, which manufactures screws, bolts, nuts and other components, says all affected employees have been notified. The company says the layoffs will begin October 23 and continue in phases through March of next year.

Positions being affected by the layoffs include assistant buyer, quality manager, and plant manager, among others.

Acument says the Rochester facility is not represented by a union, and there are no bumping rights.

ROCHESTER, Ind. (WISH) — Two Rochester teenagers who were formerly students in the Rochester Community school system have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and intimidation after an investigation into their alleged involvement in a threat against a school in July.

According to Rochester Police Department Police Chief Andrew Shotts, John Lawrence Schultz IV, 18, and Donald Victor Robin Jr., 17, both of Rochester, were arrested after they allegedly made threats to a school.

Police say officers learned of the threat against a school on July 13 and an investigation was launched. Through the investigation, officers obtained search and arrest warrants for Schultz and Robin.

The teens were arrested on Friday. Police reported their arrest on Wednesday.

Both Schultz and Robin have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and intimidation. They are being held without bond.

Schultz is being held at the Fulton County Jail. Robin is being held at a juvenile holding center. Police say he was automatically waived into an adult court due to the severity of the charges against him.

Police say the investigation is ongoing.

Facebook conversations between Schultz and Robin were shared in court documents obtained by News 8. The two spoke online several times about their fascination with the Columbine High School massacre and how they were planning to conduct a school shooting. Those conversations took place at various times in April and June, according to court documents.

Schultz and Robin also made comments to other unidentified Facebook users about their plans to kill others.

ROCHESTER, Ind. (WISH) – On Tuesday morning, the National Transportation Safety Board released its report and recommendations on the fatal 2018 Rochester school bus crash.

The fatal crash happened in October 2018 on State Road 25 near Rochester as a group of students crossed the road to get on their bus.

The crash killed 6-year-old twin brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl as Alyssa Shepherd struck the children with her pickup truck.

According to the NTSB, the route of any school bus should not require a child to cross a street in the dark, early morning hours where the posted speed limit is 55 mph. The board found that the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation did not provide an adequate safety assessment of their bus routes.

“It’s a difficult task for school transportation directors to implement, given the number of students that we transport on buses, but on high speed roadways, that’s an extreme danger that has children crossing those roadways,” said Meg Sweeney, with the NTSB highway division.

The board also said there is a need for greater use of technology in order to prevent fatal crashes such as the Rochester crash. Additionally, the report stated that the Indiana Department of Education’s training for school transportation directors isn’t adequate. It doesn’t give enough information about examining the safety of school bus routes and potential hazards associated with those routes, according to the NTSB.

The NTSB recommended implementing new technologies in order to lower the instances of people illegally passing school buses, better training for the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation’s school bus drivers in crossing procedures and for the school system to start a process in order to track complaints about school bus route safety.

“At the same time as the Rochester, Indiana crash occurred, there were two others that we looked at as well that happened right around that same time frame,” said Sweeney. “One was in Hartsfield, Georgia and one was in Baldwyn, Mississippi, but we know that illegal passing of school buses is not limited to just those three jurisdictions.”

In October 2019, Alyssa Shepherd was convicted of three counts of reckless homicide, criminal recklessness and passing a school bus, causing injury. In December 2019, Shepherd was sentenced to four years.

To read the report, click here.

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Three children were killed last fall while trying to catch the school bus in northern Indiana.

For months, their parents pleaded with lawmakers to change the laws. They pushed for school bus safety so no other children would die.

Those parents’ efforts finally paid off. Indiana’s school bus law will change. Passing a stopped school bus with lights flashing and arms out will soon come with much harsher consequences.

On Wednesday, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the sweeping school bus safety bill into law. It takes effect July 1.

“With Senate Bill 2, the first offense could be a loss of license for 90 days,” said Zach McKinney, the transportation director for Hamilton Southeastern Schools, based in Fishers. “Then, after your second offense, it can be up to a year license suspension. In the event there is a fatality, it gives more leniency to those judges to look at sentencing and truly take it to where it needs to (go).”

McKinney said HSE has 19,000 children ride buses on school days. “We can’t thank them enough for what they did. Obviously, student safety is No. 1 in our hearts.” 

HSE is testing exterior video cameras on some of their buses. The cameras could catch drivers and their license plates as they zoom by. A camera caught one truck driver passing a stopped school bus with lights flashing a couple weeks ago. 

“The footage I pulled off of that was clear enough that I could track down the company that owned that vehicle, and they could take action on their employee.” McKinney said.

McKinney eventually wants exterior cameras on all of the district’s buses. The new law will help.

“There’s still money involved to where we can go and ask our local townships for some of that reimbursement from those citations,” McKinney said, “Ultimately, when we talk as districts and directors across the state, it’s not about the money.” 

The new law came about after three children were hit and killed near Rochester, Indiana, last year. The kids were crossing a road to catch the bus. As a result of that tragedy, the new law also states students statewide can’t cross a state or federal highway to get on or off a school bus unless it’s within a city or town, or unless there’s no other alternative.

“A lot of those directors, we’re ahead of this. We’re not making students cross those streets,” McKinney said. “You’re going to find a way. It’s good to have it written in law, so it keeps us aware of it.”

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — A bill cracking down on motorists who zoom past stopped school buses is in the hands of the Indiana House of Representatives. 

The Senate last month passed the bill 49-0 to create tougher penalties for offenders and pave the way for on-board cameras. 

Inside Indiana’s fourth-largest school district, school bus safety taken seriously. 

“For us, it’s imperative,” said Zach McKinney, director of transportation for Hamilton Southeastern Schools

The district that serves Fishers and parts of eastern Noblesville has got more than 300 buses moving more than 19,000 children daily. 

“All of our buses are equipped with interior cameras to ensure the safety of our students while they’re on board the bus,” McKinney said. “But, now we’re looking toward that exterior.” 

McKinney said they’re testing exterior cameras on a school bus. They cost around $1,800 and will record the license plates of motorists zooming past a stopped school bus. The goal, he said, is to put them or something similar to them on all the district’s buses. That would get a bit easier if the school bus safety bill becomes law. 

The bill would give school districts statewide help in paying for school bus cameras from violation fines collected from people found guilty of passing stopped school buses. 

“Really, what we’re trying to do is capture an image that we can take to prosecution, give to our local authorities, which we work hand in hand with,” McKinney said. “Currently, our process just supplies them with a plate number, then they try to track down the owner-operator of that vehicle.” 

“With money coming back from the state, if that’s a possibility, I think a lot of districts throughout the state would welcome that, just to increase the safety around the school bus,” McKinney said. 

In a statement about the bill, State Sen. Randy Head, a Republican from Logansport, said Monday:

“The camera portion of Senate Bill 2 is important because the images of offending drivers will provide law enforcement with the evidence it needs to pursue violators. Without the cameras, more people will pass stopped busses, endanger children, and get away with it.  Three children were killed in my district crossing a state highway to get on the school bus, and we want to track down offenders and hold them accountable so that this tragedy won’t be visited upon any other family.”

RELATED: 3 children hit by vehicle, killed at bus stop near Rochester

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers have revised a bill that would install cameras on school buses to catch and punish motorists who pass illegally to address concerns that anyone might profit from the legislation.

The Indiana House Courts and Criminal Code Committee on Wednesday amended the bill to bar schools or camera vendors from making money from the camera enforcement. Fines collected can be used to pay for camera equipment.

The bill comes after 6-year-old twin brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle and their nine-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl, were struck and killed by a pickup truck as they crossed a northern Indiana road to board a school bus in October.

The goal of the bill isn’t to make money but to deter drivers from passing a school bus that has its stop arm extended, said Republican Sen. Randy Head, the bill’s sponsor.

“There can be no ongoing source of revenue for the schools, there can be no ongoing source of revenue for the vendor,” Head said.

The bill proposes suspending the driver’s license for 90 days the first time someone passes a stopped school bus and a year for repeat offenders. It would raise the offense of not stopping for a school bus from a ticketed infraction to a misdemeanor and make it a felony offense to recklessly pass a bus and injure someone.

Brittany and Shane Ingle, the parents of the three children who were killed, say they’re happy with the bill’s progress.

“We hope that we can bring all sides together to come to with an agreement that will get everyone on board and we can get this important bill passed to help save children’s lives,” the couple said in a statement.

The bill passed the Senate last month. It’ll now be considered by the full House.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana drivers could face tougher penalties for passing stopped school buses under a bill advancing in the Legislature.

State senators voted 49-0 Monday in favor of the bill that would suspend the driver’s license for 90 days the first time someone was convicted of recklessly passing a stopped bus. Other provisions would create felony offenses to recklessly pass a bus and injure or kill someone.

Relatives of three children fatally struck while crossing a northern Indiana highway have urged lawmakers to support the tougher penalties.

A 9-year-old girl and her twin 6-year-old brothers were killed in the Oct. 30 pre-dawn collision on Indiana 25 near Rochester. The driver who hit the children told authorities she didn’t realize she was approaching a stopped bus.

The bill now goes to the House.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A legislative panel is backing tougher penalties for drivers who pass school buses with extended stop arms after members heard from relatives of three children fatally struck while crossing a northern Indiana highway.

An Indiana Senate committee voted unanimously Wednesday to endorse a bill that would suspend the driver’s license for 90 days the first time someone convicted of recklessly passing a stopped school bus and a year for repeat offenders. Other provisions would create felony offenses to recklessly pass a bus and injure or kill someone and allow $1,000 fines against repeat offenders recorded by school bus cameras.

Michael Stahl, whose 9-year-old daughter was killed in the Oct. 30 pre-dawn collision on Indiana 25 near Rochester, said he knows the tougher penalties won’t stop all drivers from disregarding school bus stop arms, but compared the steps to the tightening of drunken driving laws in raising awareness.

“We can raise the stakes,” Stahl said. “We can speak the language that everybody speaks and that’s money. If you increase the penalty, people begin to think twice.”

Alivia Stahl and her twin 6-year-old half brothers, Xzavier and Mason Ingle, died in the crash. The driver who hit the children told authorities she didn’t realize she was approaching a stopped school bus, despite the activated stop arm and flashing lights, until the children were right in front of her. She’s pleaded not guilty to three counts of reckless homicide.

A one-day tracking by school districts around the state last year recorded nearly 3,100 stop-arm violations, which would extrapolate to more than 500,000 violations over a school year, said Mike Brown, legislative affairs director for the state Department of Education.

Bill sponsor Sen. Randy Head of Logansport said the high possible fines were justified because some drivers can be impatient and not think about the risk of hitting a child when passing school buses.

“If someone is doing this more than once they’ve got to get the understanding that this is wrong, this is unsafe, you are jeopardizing the lives of children,” Head said.

Brittany Ingle, the mother of the children killed in the crash, and her husband Shane, the boys’ father, said during a news conference last month that they did all they could to teach the children about safely crossing the road from their neighborhood to the bus stop and hoped their tragedy leads to greater protections for other children.

The bill, which now goes to the full Senate for consideration, also would prohibit school bus stops at locations where children would have to cross highways outside city or town limits and requiring annual route safety reviews by school districts.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The parents of three children killed while crossing a state highway to get on a school bus shared their story and pushed for a new Indiana law Tuesday.  

A truck hit and killed their children in October near Rochester. Another boy who was critically injured recently left a Fort Wayne hospital.

The parents Tuesday joined state lawmakers in hopes of preventing similar tragedies.

Mother Brittany Ingle said, “We want to make sure no family ever has to suffer what we’re going through. I don’t know what it’s like to bury one child and unfortunately, I had to bury three. No parent should ever have to do that,”

Twin 6-year-olds Xzavier and Mason Ingle “were very inquisitive little boys,” Brittany said. “They loved to learn about the world around them.”

Their older sister, 9-year-old, Alivia Stahl, Brittany said, “She’s my hero. In that split second, she chose to shield my sons. What 9-year-old does that?”

State police said the fatal incident happened about 7:15 a.m. Oct. 30 at a bus stop in the 4800 block of South State Road 25 near Rochester. All four children were crossing the state highway to catch the school bus.

“It’s really unbelievable,” father Shane Ingle said. “It’s hard to understand why it happened. We’ll never know why it happened. We’ll never know why us, why we were put in this position but we were.”

In the aftermath of the crash, state Sen. Randy Head, a Logansport Republican, has filed a bill. “What it’s going to do is raise penalties for drivers who violate school bus stop signs, flashing lights and stop arms.”

Head said his bill would mandate that no child would have to cross a state highway to get to a school bus unless there is no alternative. The lawmaker said the bill would also allow schools to petition to reduce speed limits around bus stops. He said he going to think about adding language that involves putting cameras on stop arms of Indiana school buses. 

The Ingles said they’ll keep fighting for their children. “We want to help other children and other families from going through what we’re going through,” Brittany said.