Lancaster man’s appeal of sentence from hit-and-run school bus crash denied

LANCASTER COUNTY — A Lancaster man convicted of fleeing after causing a multi-vehicle crash that injured several school students will get no relief from a state appellate court, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

James P. Irvin III was sentenced last year to 5 to 20 years in prison regarding his trial conviction on over 60 charges from the May 17, 2017, crash on Route 30 in East Lampeter Township, the DA’s Office said. On Monday, the Pennsylvania Superior Court denied Irvin’s request for a new trial.

Two students were seriously injured in the crash, while others sustained less-serious injuries. Irvin, 48, fled the scene in a white Chevy Malibu. He was arrested six days later.

In his request for a new trial, Irvin argued the evidence did not support a conviction of aggravated assault. The appellate court denied that and wrote in support of denial that:

  • Were it not for Irvin’s reckless driving and illegal passing, none of the injuries would have happened.
  • Irvin knew of the risk of collision and potential serious injury when he broke the speed limit by 30 mph and passed in an opposing traffic lane while attempting to overtake an 86-foot-long tractor trailer. “He put his punctuality ahead of the safety of everyone else on the road that day,” the court’s 10-page opinion states.

Lancaster County Judge Howard Knisely returned the verdict and, at sentencing, said he found Irvin acted with malice. Judge Knisely said Irvin showed “no regard” for anyone on the road when he drove 71 mph, while accelerating, during an illegal pass which caused the chain-reaction crash that led to a bus with Lancaster Mennonite School students tipping onto its side.

The bus was carrying 14 students. A six-year-old boy was pinned under the bus and sustained a fractured clavicle, a lacerated spleen, and rib fractures.

Another boy, 16, sustained a fractured vertebra.

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