Woman charged in bus crash, here illegally using alias

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  1. This is very sad-and I don't know why her immigration status should be reported-it only serves to inflame anti-immigration fanatics in the US.
    Woman charged in bus crash, here illegally using alias

    By CHAO XIONG, Star Tribune
    February 22, 2008
    COTTONWOOD, MINN. -- The van driver involved in the school bus crash in southwestern Minnesota that killed four students was charged today, and federal authorities say she is using an alias and in the United States illegally.
    The woman, who is using the name Alianiss Nunez Morales, is charged with four counts of criminal-vehicular homicide, running a stop sign and driving without a license at the time of the crash Tuesday afternoon near Cottonwood.
    Lyon County Attorney Richard Maes confirmed today that the woman ran a stop sign when she hit the bus, which then fell onto a pickup truck. The truck driver, James Hancock, of Marshall, told the Star Tribune that the van ignored the stop sign.
    The woman appeared in District Court this morning in a wheelchair with one leg in a cast or bandage. Through an interpreter, she told the court that her name is Alianiss Morales, that she has been working in a Cottonwood cabinet shop for about a month and was living with her boyfriend in a Minneota, Minn., trailer but they broke up on the day of the crash.
    Maes asked the judge to hold the woman without bail, citing her questionable identity. But the judge said that it would be wrong because none of the charges involve allegations of using false identification. However, the defendant's attorney, Manuel P. Guerrero, of St. Paul, protested that the bail set -- $400,000 without conditions or $200,000 with an assortment of conditions -- was akin to denying her bail because of her financial situation.
    Her next court appearance is set for April 21.
    Federal immigration investigator Claude Arnold said this morning that Morales is not the woman's name, and she is not revealing her real name. He added that she is in this country illegally, probably from Mexico.
    Federal immigration spokesman Tim Counts said that the woman has been of "minimal helpfulness" to investigators, but "we will get to the bottom of matters."
    Maes told the judge that ICE officials had located an Alianiss Nunez Morales in Puerto Rico and investigators showed pictures to that woman's grandparents of the woman in the Lyon County jail. They said the woman in jail was not their granddaughter, Maes added, which became the agency's reason for being concerned about the jailed woman's identity.
    According to the criminal complaint, bus driver Dennis Devereaux said the van "went airborne" as it crossed the railroad tracks on County Road 24 right before the intersection with Hwy. 23 and he didn't have time to hit the brakes.
    Another witness, Larry Moat, told police he was driving behind the school bus and saw the van "moving at a fairly good speed" before it ran the stop sign and hit the bus in from of the rear wheels.
    According to the complaint, the van driver told police in the hospital she stopped and the bus hit her. She said she'd never been at the intersection before but had worked in Cottonwood for about a month. She told police she couldn't remember her address but lived in a trailer with her boyfriend in Minneota. She told police she did not have a driver's license.
    Immigration officials also added that they are unsure whether she is the person, as initially believed, who was arrested in 2006 for driving without a valid license.
    According to state records, Morales has a Minnesota identification card but not a valid driver's license. She pleaded guilty in June 2006 to driving without a license and paid a $182 fine.
    Lakeview School, where the students attended, will be closed Monday for the funerals of brothers Jesse Javens, 13, and Hunter Javens, 9, both of Cottonwood. Also killed were Reed Stevens, 12, of Marshall; and Emilee Olson, 9, of Cottonwood.
    There were 28 students on the bus. In addition to Hancock, eight children remained hospitalized Thursday in Sioux Falls, S.D., Marshall and Rochester.
    Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708

    © 2008 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.
  2. No direct link is cited here and it is required per megs and vlad. Closing
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