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No Charges Filed Against Charter Bus Driver

GSP investigation shows driver of bus carrying Mill Creek students swerved off roadway in an attempt to avoid another vehicle.

The driver of the charter bus involved in will not face charges as a result of the April 10 crash.

According to the Georgia State Patrol (GSP), the driver of the bus, 72-year-old Jaime Villafane of Newnan, Ga., crashed during an attempt to avoid another accident.

GSP investigators determined 78-year-old Howard Lalone of Tawas City, Mich., was driving north on I-75 in the left lane when traffic began to slow in a construction zone. Lalone failed to notice the traffic slowing and swerved his Ford sport utility vehicle into the middle lane to avoid striking another vehicle. Lalone then reportedly swerved back into the left lane where he struck a Chevrolet Caprice driven by a 30-year-old Georgia man. The collision pushed the Caprice into the path of the charter bus. Villafane swerved to avoid the Caprice, drove the bus off the roadway and up an embankment where the bus struck an overpass.

After striking the Caprice, Lalone’s vehicle continued into the median, struck the guardrail and overturned. Lalone and his passenger, a 68-year-old female, were transported to Crisp Regional Hospital. Lalone was later cited for following too closely.

The four occupants of the Caprice, which included a five-year-old and nine-year-old child, were not injured.

A total of 52 people, including 47 Mill Creek students, were on the bus at the time of the accident. Villafane and 17 students were transported to area hospitals for treatment.

The accident occurred on I-75 northbound near mile marker 116 in Dooly County as the students were returning from a chorus group competition at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

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