- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2005

An Arlington County prosecutor yesterday said felony charges most likely will not be filed in last month’s school bus crash in which two students were killed and 15 other persons were injured.

“I have not yet made a decision as to whether charges will be coming,” Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard Trodden told The Washington Times. “If I decide to charge, I do not see felony charges coming of this.”

Mr. Trodden said he does not know when he will decide whether to file charges in the case.

“Hopefully, it’s not too long. … We are evaluating evidence, researching precedents and evaluating case law and waiting for one last piece of information,” he said without elaborating.

Arlington County Police and Virginia State Police have completed a joint investigation of the April 18 crash and turned over its results to the commonwealth attorney’s office on May 7, police spokesman Matt Martin said.

“When the commonwealth attorney’s office has looked the report over and decided what will be done, we will let everyone know,” he said.

Lillibeth Gomez, 9, was killed when the school bus in which she was riding collided head-on with a garbage truck. Harrison Orrosco, 7, was injured and died two days later.

The bus was headed to Hoffman-Boston Elementary School. The accident occurred at Columbia Pike and South Court House Road in Arlington, less than a mile from the school.

School bus driver Pam Sims, 37, has not returned to work. She was seriously injured and was released from a hospital several days after the crash.

Truck driver James S. Wallace, 41, was treated for a broken leg at Inova Fairfax Hospital and released.

Relatives and friends of Lillibeth and Harrison are grieving.

“They are doing OK,” said Christina Portuondo, a spokeswoman for the Gomez family. “They have an unshakable faith, and they sincerely believe that [Lillibeth is] now an angel. They believe she’s in a better place and that this is God’s will.”

The Orrosco family did not return calls seeking comment.

Special grief counseling at Hoffman-Boston ended two weeks ago, said Linda Erdos, spokeswoman for Arlington County public schools. The school had brought in extra counselors from around the county to address the children’s needs.

“They aren’t seeing anything as lingering effects from the accident,” Miss Erdos said of the counselors.

“Children grieve differently and for less time. It’s not that they don’t care, but in their small lives, a week is a long time. They move on much faster.”

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