Bus driver charged after fatal crash

Daily Reporter staff reports

GREENFIELD — The driver of a church bus that overturned on Interstate 70 on Tuesday afternoon, killing a 6-year-old boy, has been charged with reckless homicide.

Charles Goodman, 53, of Gary, was driving with a suspended license at the time of the crash near the 107 mile marker on eastbound I-70, police said. Goodman told a state police trooper he’d been feeling tired and fell asleep at the wheel moments before the bus careened off the side of the road, slammed into a tree and caught fire, charging documents state.

A passenger sitting behind Goodman on the bus told investigators “something was off” with the driver from the start of the trip, adding he seemed unfocused, court documents state.

Police are awaiting the results of a toxicology test, and further charges could be filed if Goodman is found to have been driving under the influence, Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said.

Goodman was driving 12 members of the St. Jude Family Deliverance Worship Center in Gary to a youth conference in Dayton. The crash killed Jacob Williams, 6, of Gary, and injured 11 others, including Goodman, who suffered a broken arm and fractured jaw when he was thrown from the bus.

Goodman remains in Indiana University Health-Methodist Hospital, where he is still undergoing treatment for his injuries. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Following the crash, police ran Goodman’s Illinois identification card through a state database and discovered he had a suspended Illinois license and a warrant out for his arrest in Lake County for failure to appear in court for a traffic offense. Goodman also has convictions in Indiana, court records state.

Police interviewed several passengers as well as church members who were following behind the bus as it made its way to Dayton, including Lois Hill, the registered owner of the bus.

Hill told police the bus had suspension problems, and just before the crash, it appeared Goodman was having trouble with the steering. Inspections of the bus Wednesday showed the suspension would not have caused the crash, court documents state.

Hill said she asked Goodman, a former member of the church who often helps out with church projects, to drive the bus.

Reckless homicide is a Level 5 felony carrying a penalty of up to six years and $10,000 in fines. Goodman also is charged with driving while suspended, a Class A misdemeanor carrying up to one year and $5,000 in fines.