The driver of a pick-up truck that hit a Deerfield school bus head-on on Feb. 12 is facing multiple charges including a third-offense OWI.
According to a release from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, William A. Kaplan, 40, of Fort Atkinson, was driving a pickup truck southbound on State Highway 73, at Koshkonong Road in the Town of Christiana, shortly after 5 p.m., when he struck a northbound Deerfield school bus head-on.
Kaplan, who was admitted to a local hospital, was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, as a third offense, and misdemeanor bail jumping. He also received a number of traffic citations. Other charges may be pending based on the extent of injuries to the occupants of the bus, according to the Sheriff’s Office release.
On Feb. 17, Kaplan was charged in Dane County Circuit Court with four traffic citations: driving too fast for conditions, failure to keep a vehicle under control, operating left of center and operating a motor vehicle without insurance. An April 23 court date has been set on those.
As of Feb. 18, no criminal charges related to the alleged OWI had been filed in Dane County Circuit Court.
The 63-year-old school bus driver received minor injuries. Two passengers on the bus, a 30-year-old female and a 17-year-old male, were examined by EMS at the scene and released.
A passenger in Kaplan’s vehicle, a 30-year-old male, was not injured in the crash.
Nate Hamilton, vice president of operations for Go Riteway Transportation, that provides bus service to the Deerfield school district, said the bus was returning from a school-related activity in the Janesville area when the accident occurred.
Hamilton commended the bus driver for her response to collision.
“She did a great job, under the circumstances, of maintaining control of her vehicle,” Hamilton said. Hamilton said Go Riteway Transportation was relieved to hear that the injuries to the bus occupants weren’t serious.
“We wish a quick recovery to everyone involved,” he said.
“We continue to work with our school district partner, the Deerfield Community School District, as the details of this incident are being shared,” Hamilton added.
Deerfield School District Superintendent Michelle Jensen alerted district parents to the accident in an email on Feb. 12.
“This evening, a school bus transporting a Deerfield student was involved in an accident. The bus was returning to Deerfield on Hwy. 73 when it was struck by a drunk driver,” Jensen’s email said. “While it was a very serious accident, we are grateful to share that the bus driver, student and accompanying adult on the bus suffered minor injuries. We wish them a quick recovery. Our gratitude also extends to the quick response provided by the Dane County Sheriff’s Department and our bus company, Go Riteway.”
“The district would also like to extend our gratitude to the Cambridge Fire Department and EMS members that assisted at the scene. I’ve heard that they did a great job of providing care immediately. Based on the severity of the accident, this could have had a much different outcome. We are so grateful that the injuries were minor,” Jensen also said in a statement.
Kaplan was last arrested for an OWI in October 2019.
His Oct. 25, 2019 arrest was for a second-offense OWI. He is facing multiple charges related to that incident in Dane County Circuit Court. His next court appearance on those charges is scheduled for March 18.