A Perkiomenville woman driving a bus bus that struck and killed a 78-year-old Pottstown woman in September has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the incident, according to Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman and Lower Pottsgrove Police Chief Michael Foltz.
Donna M. Engler, 64, of Schultz Road in Perkiomenville, was driving a school bus in Lower Pottsgrove just after 7 a.m. on Sept. 9 when she allegedly turned right and struck pedestrian Shirley Wilhelm, 78, who was crossing Mervine Street at Charlotte Street.
After a crash reconstruction it was decided that nothing had obstructed Engler’s view of Wilhelm walking across the street; because the victim had the right of way to cross and because the defendant should have seen Wilhellm.
According to authorities, the defendant “had driven in a careless, reckless and grossly negligent manner, which constitutes the crime of involuntary manslaughter."
Initially the incident was reported as an apparent hit-and-run, until the driver came forward and said she was unaware that she struck Wilhelm.
“It seems clear that she did not know this event took place at the time it occurred. There is no indication, in all of the evidence we have gathered to date, that she actually knew she struck another person,” said Ferman, at the time.
Engler turned herself in to authorities and was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Edward Kropp, Sr. on Friday. Her bail was set at $25,000 and she was released under the condition that she will not drive a school bus.
Her formal arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 4, according to court documents. She is currently free on $25,000 unsecured bail. A condition of the bail is that Engler is not permitted to drive a school bus.
Nicole Foulke contributed to this report.