Time served for West York school bus attacker

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A West York woman who terrorized a busload of elementary school students when she attacked their bus driver has avoided more prison time.

Jackelyn Sanchez appeared in York County Court on Wednesday, Aug. 22, where she was given a time-served sentence. She pleaded no contest in April to five misdemeanor offenses — simple assault, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief.

A presentence investigation by county probation officers recommended she be given probation, which is what presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness did after defense attorney Bill Graff noted that Sanchez has been in counseling and has undergone mental-health and drug and alcohol evaluations.

Jackelyn Sanchez

Ness sentenced Sanchez, 31, of West Poplar Street, to time served — which was 53 days in York County Prison — and ordered her to be on probation for two years. He also ordered her to pay $234 in restitution to bus driver Loretta Stump and $307 in restitution to Durham School Services bus company.

Ness ordered Sanchez to remain in counseling until counselors told her she was finished.

Sanchez cried as she apologized to Stump, who attended the hearing, and to the 61 children on the bus, who weren't in attendance.

"I hope that one day she finds it in her heart to forgive me," the defendant said.

The background: Stump was picking up students bound for West York Area School District's three elementary schools and was stopped at the corner of West Poplar and Dewey streets about 8:25 a.m. May 19, 2017, when Sanchez boarded the bus.

"She began violently and physically attacking the driver as well as destroying property on the bus," West York Police Chief Matt Millsaps said at the time. "She was just violently wailing on and grabbing at the bus driver. And whatever was in her proximity, she was damaging."

Students on the bus, who ranged from kindergartners to fifth-graders, managed to open the rear emergency exit and run to safety, Millsaps said.

Some parents were on scene and called 911 immediately after the attack began, according to Millsaps, who said officers arrived moments later.

Charging documents state that Sanchez got on the bus and wouldn't leave and ripped out the cord of a two-way radio when Stump tried to call for help.

Sanchez then punched Stump in the face and head and choked her, police said.

More:Police: West York bus driver attacked, students 'terrorized'

Tried to drive bus: Sanchez tried to move Stump from the driver's seat "to gain control of the bus," at one point twisting and breaking a gear shifter, documents state.

As children fled the bus, one was knocked down by Sanchez while Sanchez was assaulting Stump, according to police, who said no children were hurt.

Children were screaming and crying as Officer Eric Rodgers arrived. One parent yelled out, "that's her" and pointed at Sanchez, who was running away, documents state.

Rodgers gave chase when Sanchez refused to stop, police said. He struggled with her  as she resisted arrest, and both ended up on the ground, where Rodgers suffered an injury to his knee and aggravated an earlier injury to his wrist, charging documents allege.

Once in custody, Sanchez gave no information about herself, Millsaps said. She did make statements suggesting she was under the influence of a controlled substance and was singing a song from a children's Disney movie, Millsaps said.

Sanchez had no known relationship to any of the students on the bus or the driver, according to Millsaps.

More:Police: West York bus assault suspect released from hospital

Kids 'traumatized': Stump's written victim-impact statement to the court notes that she has suffered from neck and shoulder pain as well as anxiety issues since being attacked by Sanchez.

Despite that, she finished the school year driving on the same route.

"I drove cuz those children needed me as I needed them," Stump wrote. "It was a challenge ... but I pushed myself to continue on. The children on the bus were greatly traumatized by this this random uncalled for act."

Stump noted her son also was riding the bus and showed bravery in staying on the bus and helping other students to safety.

"He literally watched his mother get beat up but stayed on that bus the whole time," Stump wrote.

She noted that the students on the bus "went through hell."

'Terrifying': "For me to watch that video of all those kiddos screaming for fear of their life was terrifying," Stump wrote. "Yes she could have put a knife in me or worse, but I took that chance. She was NOT going to move that bus as long as I could help it!!"

Stump wrote that Sanchez ripped her CB cord and started punching her and also wouldn't let Stump turn off the ignition. She said witnesses told her Sanchez also choked her and threw her head against the steering wheel and seat.

"I remember her sitting on my lap, trying to drive the bus, but I was determined to not have that happen," Stump wrote. "(I) had my right foot/leg full pressure on the brake."

Stump praised the  children on the bus.

"Those children were amazing, how they worked together under a horrible situation that they will not forget. I was so proud of them. ... Those children didn't deserve what they went through."

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.