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Published: Friday, 10/1/2010

Driver apologizes to family of Sylvania girl killed while getting on school bus

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Cynthia Anderson apologized to the friends and family of Morgan Duris Friday, acknowledging that her actions on a dark January morning left an unimaginable void in their lives.

She was then sentenced in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to three years of community control with the requirement that she do 200 hours of community service. As part of her community service, Anderson would be responsible for participating in programs to promote traffic safety.

The Toledo woman was sentenced for causing the death of the 15-year-old Sylvania teenager, who was struck by Anderson's car as she attempted to board her school bus. Anderson, 67, pleaded no contest Sept. 24 to aggravated vehicular homicide as part of a negotiated plea that involved a sentence of no prison time.

"No sentence that you issue is any worse than the sentence that Cynthia has imposed on herself," defense attorney Sheldon Wittenberg told Judge Frederick McDonald. "The realization is with her that a young child has died, and it's with her every day of her life."

Anderson, who was on her way to work at the time, struck the Northview High School freshman shortly after 7 a.m. The teenager was crossing Erie Street near Apple Meadow Drive in front of her house to board the bus.

Anderson was driving west on Erie, approaching the slowing school bus. Because her vehicle's dashboard lights were not working, Anderson could not know how fast she was going.

Officials later determined she was driving as fast as 50 mph in the 35-mph zone.

In a statement read to the court, the teenager's mother said that her family was devastated by their loss but agreed to the community control sanction. In particular, the family said they felt it was important that Anderson be convicted of the felony charge and that they did not want the 10 students on the bus that day to have to relive those moments at a trial.

Assistant County Prosecutor J. Christopher Anderson said recent public comments made after Anderson's plea was in the media indicated that there was a misconception that she sped up to "beat the bus."

He said that although she did not stop as she should have, there is no evidence that she attempted to outrun the school bus.

He added that although Anderson's actions were reckless, they were not intentional.

Judge McDonald suspended Anderson's driver's license for 10 years.



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