A Columbus Police Department report states that a source used by Muscogee County School Board member Frank Myers to build allegations of a Muscogee County School District cover-up after a fatal 2016 bus crash refused to go on the record.
Myers, the nine-member board’s District 8 representative, drafted an affidavit for a now-retired MCSD bus driver who was his “source of information for possible mechanical problems with the bus and the possible cover up by the school district,” the CPD’s report says. But the retired employee “refused to sign the affidavit that Myers had drafted,” the report says.
That revelation is among the conclusions in the CPD’s investigation summary of the Aug. 22, 2016, single-vehicle accident that killed MCSD bus driver Roy Newman and injured the seven student passengers.
Friday, when Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren told the Ledger-Enquirer the investigation of the Newman case was finished, the L-E sent the CPD an open records request for the case file, including any related video. While the CPD processes the request, the L-E independently obtained a copy of the investigation’s summary report.
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According to Officer Benjamin Shuler’s summary report of the CPD’s investigation, Myers alleged “the bus that Mr. Newman was operating at the time of the accident (spare bus 99-591) had known mechanical problems, which may have been a factor in the case of the crash.”
Myers also alleged, the report says, that “the Muscogee County School District, specifically in the area of Transportation, attempted to cover up these known issues.”
In his report of the Dec. 12, 2016, interview with the retired bus driver, Shuler wrote that the retiree “refused to sign the affidavit because he had no direct or personal knowledge that bus 591 had mechanical problems. He stated that he felt like Myers was trying to make him a ‘whistle blower’ and get him involved in a ‘witch hunt.’”
The CPD’s investigation concluded that although the “exact reason” Newman’s bus left the roadway “is unknown,” he was speeding and not wearing his seat belt, which was a “large contributing factor in the direct cause of the accident itself.”
The CPD’s report also says, “There is no indication of any cover up or conspiracy as pertaining to hiding mechanical defects in relation to this accident.”
Although the 17-year-old bus “had problems with the power steering the week before the accident … it was repaired prior to its use being transferred” to Newman on Aug. 22,” the report says. “All evidence indicates that the power steering of the bus was fully operational the entire time Roy Newman was operating it up to the time of the crash.”