An 87-year-old man was behind bars Friday for allegedly rear-ending a school bus in Desert Hot Springs, then maneuvering around the bus and striking a group of students walking nearby, killing a 9-year-old girl and injuring three other children.
Robert Hanson of Desert Hot Springs was being held at the John Benoit Detention Center in Indio on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run causing death. He was tentatively set to appear in court Tuesday at the Larson Justice Center, according to jail records.
Hanson, driving a white Cadillac sedan, allegedly rear-ended the bus around 4 p.m. Thursday in the 17500 block of Corkill Road, according to California Highway Patrol officer David Torres. No injuries were reported among the students on the bus.
After the crash, Hanson allegedly drove around the bus, veering onto the right shoulder of southbound Corkill Road, hitting a speed limit sign and plowing into four young students who were walking on the shoulder, Torres said.
One of the children — 9-year-old Monica Gonzalez Guzman of Desert Hot Springs — was killed and three other students suffered varying injuries, Torres said.
Hanson, along with the injured victims, were taken to Desert Regional Medical Center for treatment.
KESQ reported the children are students at Julius Corsini Elementary School. A parent who went to the scene of the crash Thursday told the station there are no sidewalks along Corkill, and students are forced to walk along the shoulder of the roadway.
“It is overwhelming to hear and process this kind of tragic news,” Palm Springs Unified School District Superintendent Mike Swize said in a statement. “We want our families and staff to know that we are here for them to provide any support they need now or in the coming days and weeks ahead. All of us at Palm Springs Unified extend our heartfelt condolences at this most difficult time.”
The investigation into the crash was continuing, but authorities said drugs and alcohol were not factors.