RACINE COUNTY — It appears the Racine man accused of driving a school bus into a cornfield likely won’t face any jail time.
38-year-old Jason Stalbaum was allegedly on drugs at the time, and several children were on the bus when it crashed on October 6th, 2015.
In court on May 10th, the state moved to dismiss four felony first degree recklessly endangering safety charges against Stalbaum.
Stalbaum then pleaded no contest to four traffic forfeiture charges — hit-and-run, property adjacent to a highway, failure of operator to notify police of an accident, deviating from lane of traffic and failure to keep a vehicle under control.
Stalbaum has a plea sentencing hearing scheduled for May 27th. He will likely only have to pay fines in this case.
Stalbaum is the son of the owner of the school bus company.
On October 6th, Racine County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Buena Park Road near Barnes Drive for a report of an accident.
A complainant indicated a school bus operator, later identified as Stalbaum, had driven a school bus with students on board through a cornfield — before returning to the roadway and continuing to drive.
According to the criminal complaint, a deputy observed tire marks leading from Buena Park Road into gravel, then into a ditch, and finally, into the cornfield. Roughly three rows of corn were destroyed — for approximately 100 feet.
The tire tracks showed the vehicle returned from the cornfield to the ditch, back onto the gravel, and finally back onto Buena Park Road.
A deputy spoke with the owners of S & J Bus Service Inc. in Waterford, who indicated they owned the school bus in question, and that there were four students on board.
Keith Brandstetter, Waterford Union High School superintendent tells FOX6 News the students on board are in high school — one from Waterford, another from Burlington, and two from Union Grove.
No one was hurt.
One of the children on board the bus told officials the bus drove into the ditch on Buena Park Road before heading into the cornfield — eventually returning to the road, according to the complaint.
The school bus was located on State Highway 11, just west of County Highway J.
Field sobriety tests were performed on Stalbaum — and according to the complaint, a deputy noticed Stalbaum displayed “unusual indicators of impairment” — including distinct facial tremors, distinct body tremors, and that “odd behavior” was displayed during the “Walk-and-Turn” test.
According to the complaint, Stalbaum told officials he had taken Clonazepam on Tuesday morning.
Field sobriety testing was continued at the Burlington Township Police Department — and officials observed impairment during each test, the complaint says.
A deputy spoke with Stalbaum about his medications, and he indicated he took Clonazepam at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, and he said the medication “makes him feel high.” He also said he took Morphine Sulfate around 1:00 p.m. Stalbaum further stated that he smoked marijuana in July, according to the complaint.
Stalbaum was placed under arrest for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) and taken to the hospital, where he consented to a test of his blood.
The complaint says Stalbaum admitted to “stockpiling Clonazepam to use recreationally,” and that when he takes the medication he “balloons out” or “checks out.”
Stalbaum further stated that he took two Morphine Sulfate pills and one Clonazepam pill during lunch on Tuesday — and that he smoked marijuana either the previous night, or the night before that.