Charges expected ‘soon’ in bus stop accident

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Family and friends gathered at Montana Children's Hospital in Kalispell in support of 6-year-old Jordana Hubble. (Photo courtesy of Hubble family)

The Montana Highway Patrol trooper who investigated the traffic accident last month that severely injured an Olney-Bissell student said there was no reason the driver couldn’t have stopped in time to avoid the tragic incident.

Six-year-old Jordana Hubble had just got off the school bus after school Nov. 12 and was trying to cross U.S. 93 west of Whitefish when she was struck by an oncoming vehicle that failed to stop, even though bus lights and stop signs were fully activated. The driver is described as a local woman in her 50s.

Trooper Jon Raymond provided an update to the Daily Inter Lake on the case as Hubble remains at Montana Children’s Hospital in Kalispell recovering from a traumatic brain injury.

“It had been snowing that day and there was some slush on the road, but there were no other crashes in the vicinity and I don’t believe the roads were too slick for the driver to stop in time,” Raymond said. “The driver failed to stop for the blinking lights and the safety arm on the bus. She had ample opportunity to stop and for whatever reason, chose not to stop.”

Raymond said charges will be filed.

“Hopefully soon,” he said. “We are waiting on the blood test results to come back from Missoula [Montana State Crime Lab] and that will determine what type of charges will be filed.”

Raymond said the woman has a medical marijuana card and they are waiting to see if she had more than the legal limit of marijuana in her system. In Montana, the legal limit is 5 nanograms per milliliter.

According to Raymond, the woman said she uses medical marijuana at night.

According to witnesses at the scene, the woman was driving between 25 and 40 miles per hour when she hit the girl.

“At the minimum, we’ll file a charge of careless driving resulting in injury or death. Regardless of intoxication, there will be charges,” Raymond said.

Jordana’s two older siblings were waiting to cross the highway when the accident occurred, according to Raymond.

He also said that another vehicle had failed to stop for the school bus before the woman hit Hubble. Raymond says there is no other information on that driver.

Veronica “Vo” Hubble said her daughter suffered a diffuse axonal injury, which is the tearing of the brain’s long connecting nerve fibers, which happens when the brain is injured as it shifts and rotates inside the skull. It usually causes coma and injury to many different parts of the brain.

According to information from the family that was posted Dec. 4 on the website, Jordana remains in a coma, but is breathing on her own.

Katherine Sivanish wrote on the site that “Jordana’s situation has changed very little. She is still in a coma, but her vitals are good and she is breathing on her own, and for that we are very grateful. A gastronomy tube (G-Tube) was surgically placed through her abdomen and into her stomach last week for feeding purposes. Due to the extent of her brain injury, her pediatric neurologist was very clear: If an adult brain sustained the same amount of damage, the chances of recovery would be zero. The biggest thing we have going for us is simply the fact that Jordana is a child.

“At this point in time, Jordana’s team of doctors at the Montana Children’s Hospital in Kalispell have decided that the next course of action is to enter Jordana into a coma emergence program. Unfortunately, there are very few hospitals that participate in such a program, so Jordana will most definitely have to be sent out of state. The decision has yet to be made as to when and where that will be.”

Sivanish said that the family is still encouraged by the progress Jordana is making outwardly. Sivanish reported that she sees therapists daily, and she appears to intentionally respond to sound, touch, and movement. Jordana’s eyes open a little more every day. She is able to make slight postural changes and she seems to enjoy rides in her chair, the family reports.

Sivanish said the family and close friends spent Thanksgiving at the hospital.

“It was hard, but we’re thankful we had the opportunity to come together as a family and spend the holiday with our sweet girl,” Sivanish wrote. “We remain hopeful and are overwhelmingly grateful to the community for all the support our little girl has received.”

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