SANDY, Utah (ABC4) — A school bus driver has been charged in a fatal auto-pedestrian crash that resulted in the death of 15-year-old Jennifer Flores Diaz, according to the Salt Lake Co. District Attorney’s Office.
Gary Arden Rollins, 71, of Sandy, was charged Wednesday in the Third District Court with negligent homicide (class A misdemeanor) and failure to yield to a pedestrian in an adjacent crosswalk (infraction).
On January 27, police responded to an accident at the intersection of 8375 South and State St. in Salt Lake County. Officers learned the crash involved a Canyons School District school bus and a pedestrian, identified as 15-year-old Jennifer Flores Diaz.
Police learned Rollins was driving a school bus eastbound on Princeton Ave. and came to a red light. While Rollins was waiting to turn left onto State St., Diaz was standing on the northeast corner of State St., having already pressed the crosswalk button.
After waiting, the light turned green and Rollins entered the intersection making a left-hand turn. At the same time, Diaz walked through the marked crosswalk on a white walk signal.
Rollins did not see Diaz in the intersection and failed to stop, police said. Rollins reportedly struck Diaz with the left front corner of the school bus.
Court documents state witnesses yelled for Rollins to stop, but Diaz had been run over and was partially trapped under the rear wheel. Diaz was pronounced dead at the scene.
Video analysis reportedly confirmed that Rollins was holding a route map in his hands and reviewed it multiple times during the drive. Police said the video showed Diaz review the route map, then set it aside to drive through the intersection.
The video also showed that Rollins turned his attention to stopped vehicles at the red light that he needed to clear in order to make the left-hand turn. “Because his attention was turned away from the portion of the intersection that he was driving towards, Rollins failed to observe [Diaz] in the crosswalk,” court documents state.
Police said Rollins had six accidents causing property damage while driving the school bus since 2018. Diaz was a sophomore at Jordan High School at the time of her passing.