Woman convicted in fatal school bus crash sentenced
MARSHALL (AP) -- A woman who initially lied about her identity and still denies driving a van that slammed into a school bus, killing four children, was sentenced Wednesday to nearly 13 years in prison.
Olga Marina Franco Del Cid was convicted in August of 24 charges, including four counts of criminal vehicular homicide in the Feb. 19 crash involving a bus from Lakeview School near the southwest Minnesota town of Cottonwood.
Lyon County Attorney Rick Maes said he hoped for a tougher sentence, and acknowledged the case affected him on a personal level because he has five children who regularly ride a school bus.
Manuel Guerrero, who is Franco's attorney, said he plans to appeal her conviction and didn't agree with her sentence. "I don't think it was fair," he said.
He said Franco has little understanding of the justice system and said she was a "little confused about what's going to happen to her now."
Franco was extricated from the driver's seat of the minivan, which hit the school bus after barreling through a stop sign. But her attorneys tried to show during her trial that Franco's boyfriend was driving, fled the scene and hasn't been seen since.
"Franco's sentence will end," Lyon County District Judge David Peterson said. "For those parents dealing with injuries, it's a daily struggle. For the parents dealing with lost children, it's a lifetime of could-have-beens and might-have-beens that never will be."
Through an interpreter, Franco, 24, asked for forgiveness for using someone else's identity. Franco is Guatemalan and at the time of the crash was living and working in Minnesota illegally under an assumed name.
She also asked for forgiveness for the crash, but still denied being the driver.
The families of the four children who were killed -- Jesse Javens, 13; his brother, Hunter Javens, 9; Emilee Olson, 9; and Reed Stevens, 12 -- all spoke during the hearing. Fourteen other people were hurt.
"Our family has a huge hole that will never be fixed," said Traci Olson, Emilee's mother, during the hearing.
Kandy Stevens, Reed's mother, said she didn't think her son's death was an accident. "(Franco) should not have been in this country," Stevens said. "(Franco) should never have been driving."