MADISON, Wis. - The trial is underway for an Indiana truck driver accused of slamming into a packed school bus last year in Columbia County.
The incident happened on the interstate in May 2018. Dozens of students on that bus were injured, with five of them suffering serious injuries.
The school bus was heading to the Wisconsin Dells as an end-of-year field trip for the students. Wayne Murphy, 43, faces 46 charges in this case in all, including 10 felony counts and five charges of injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle.
The bus was parked on the shoulder at mile marker 123 due to some mechanical issues when Murphy's truck hit the back of the bus. Police say empty pill bottles were found in his truck after the crash.
Another truck driver, John Blair, testified that he saw Murphy driving erratically between Janesville and the crash scene and called to report it.
"Basically, I knew it was unsafe. I didn't know if he was falling asleep. I didn't know what was going on with the driver. I knew something was wrong because he wasn't staying straight in the road," Blair said.
Murphy told investigators after the crash he took medication for anxiety, but authorities said he may have taken double the prescribed dose.
His attorney said in the opening statement that his client will testify about wind conditions and a top-loaded truck that made handling difficult. If convicted on all counts, he faces a sentence of more than 100 years in prison.
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