GREENFIELD — The driver of a bus that crashed on Interstate 70 and killed a 6-year-old boy on board had cocaine in his system at the time of the accident, test results show.
Charles Goodman, 53, of Gary, had traces of benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, in his blood immediately following the accident, which prompted prosecutors to charge the man with an additional felony count in an effort to hold him responsible for the child’s death.
Hancock County prosecutors this week filed a Level 4 felony charge of causing death when operating while intoxicated by a controlled substance against Goodman. The count comes in addition to a Level 5 felony charge of reckless homicide and a Class A misdemeanor of driving with a suspended license, which were filed against Goodman after the July crash.
Goodman was behind the wheel of a 16-passenger bus carrying a dozen members of the St. Jude Family Deliverance Worship Center, who were traveling July 28 from northwest Indiana to Dayton, Ohio, for a church conference.
Just after 4 p.m., the bus veered off the south side of the interstate, slammed into a tree, turned over and caught fire. Eleven people on board were injured, including Goodman, and were taken area hospitals with various injuries; 6-year-old Jacob Williams did not survive and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Goodman had a history of driving violations, and he was wanted on a warrant issued in Lake County after he failed to appear in court for a traffic offense, police said.
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.
That statement tipped prosecutors off that Goodman might have been driving under the influence, Prosecutor Brent Eaton said.
“At the time the blood draw was taken, we knew it was a possibility,” Eaton said.
Lois Hill, the registered owner of the bus, who was following the bus on the way to Dayton, said Goodman appeared to be having trouble steering just before the crash.
Hill cautioned that the bus had suspension problems, but inspections of the vehicle revealed no mechanical issues that would have caused the crash, court documents state.
The Level 4 felony Goodman now faces carries a penalty of two to 12 years in jail and $10,000 in fines. Reckless homicide carries a penalty of up to six years and $10,000 in fines; and driving while suspended could put Goodman behind bars for up to one year with $5,000 in fines.
Goodman has been in the Hancock County Jail on a $30,000 bond since the time of the accident. He is expected to appear in Hancock County Superior Court 1 on Oct. 30 for an initial hearing on the additional charge.
Attorney Jim McNew of Greenfield has been appointed to represent Goodman in the proceedings. McNew did not return a call for comment.