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Published: Thursday, 8/14/2003

Charges to be filed in death of girl, 10

LIMA, Ohio - The driver of a van involved in a crash that killed a 10-year-old girl will be charged with vehicular manslaughter, a charge her supporters claim is unfair.

Judy Bivens, 41, was driving a 15-passenger van Aug. 2 when she lost control on I-75 and veered into the median, causing the van to flip. The impact threw Ioulia Derboucheva from the van. The young girl was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Lima woman was driving 14 children, ages 5 to 16, to a picnic in Findlay for Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church. She could be sentenced to 93 days in jail.

The church's pastor, H. Frank Taylor, said witnesses saw a vehicle cut in front of Ms. Bivens, who then fought to regain control after she swerved to avoid a crash.

“The tragedy is that it happened at all, but with this charge, we're almost adding greater injury,” Mr. Taylor said. “Whenever there is a fatality, you want to look for and maybe set some blame. When it is an accident like this, the person to blame is unfortunately not a part of the report.”

The Ohio Highway Patrol said Ms. Bivens overcorrected when she began drifting into an occupied lane. The sudden move led Ms. Bivens to lose control, witnesses told police.

Ms. Bivens could not be reached for comment.

A spokesman for Lima Municipal Court said Ms. Bivens also will be charged with failure to maintain reasonable control and failure to use turn and stop signals, both minor misdemeanors.

Mr. Taylor said the students were on their way to a picnic the church hosts every year after vacation Bible school. Ms. Bivens was an experienced van driver who had been driving for the church for more than a decade, he added.

“This is not a novice,” he said.

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