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Mt. Zion Church bus driver pleads guilty for deadly 2017 wreck

A group of church members were traveling to the Atlanta airport to board a plane for a mission trip in Africa when the deadly crash occurred.

Posted: Jan 18, 2019 9:47 AM
Updated: Jan 18, 2019 3:58 PM

UPDATE: On Friday, Jerry Sims entered a guilty plea to Vehicular Homicide 2nd Degree and Improper Lane Change and was sentenced to probation under Georgia’s First Offender Act, his attorney, Jason Swindle, said.

According to Swindle, in Georgia, Vehicular Homicide 2nd Degree is a misdemeanor. He says the four elements to the offense are operating a motor vehicle, violating a minor traffic law, causing the death of another person and committing it without any intent to do so.


Sarah Harmening

Swindle said there is no presence of drugs, alcohol or reckless driving involved in these prosecutions. He said Alabama does not have this law, and traffic wrecks like this in Alabama are considered accidents, not criminal offenses. 

Sims was sentenced as a first offender, meaning that he was not convicted Friday and will not be convicted of this as long as he does not violate conditions during his 24-month probation period, his attorney said.

Defensive driving courses are routine conditions in Georgia, Swindle said. During the 24 months of probation, Sims cannot operate a commercial vehicle or large bus. 

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According to the Fulton County, Georgia Circuit Court Clerk's Office, Jerry Sims was in court Friday morning for a plea and arraignment hearing.

Sims was the driver of the Mt. Zion Church bus that overturned on the way to the Atlanta airport in June of 2017. 17-year-old Sarah Harmening was killed and several others were injured.

Sims was charged with 2nd degree homicide by vehicle and failure to maintain lane. Both are misdemeanors. 

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