Nassau County Judge William Donnino sentenced Raymond Ragen, 45, to up to 15 years in prison in July 2014 for causing a fatal accident involving a school bus carrying special needs children. After a three week trial, a jury convicted Ragen, a cement truck driver, of vehicular manslaughter and assault. He was acquitted of the top charge of aggravated vehicular homicide. The accident killed Jorge Guevara, the 45-year-old bus driver who was also a father of four. Louis Kragouras, 65, was a bus monitor and suffered crippling injuries as the result of the crash. Undergoing two surgeries, Kragouras had to have his hip replaced as well as a metal rod placed in his knee. A six-year-old autistic boy suffered from a broken jaw, a detached lip and permanent facial scarring. There were four special needs children on the bus at the time of the crash.
According to Assistant District Attorney Brendan Ahearn, Ragen was high on Valium and was talking on his cellphone when he was driving a 30,000 pound cement truck on Oyster Bay Road in Locus Valley in July 2012. Ragen’s 13-foot truck then hit a 10-foot high Long Island Railroad overpass. The force of the impact sent the cement truck into the opposite lane, where the truck collided head-on with a school bus taking children home from summer camp. Guevara, the school bus driver, was pronounced dead at the scene.
During the three week trial, however, Ragen’s defense attorney told the jury a different story. The attorney claimed that Ragen’s truck was sideswiped by a sports utility vehicle, causing Ragen to hit his head and lose consciousness. The truck then hit the overpass and then careened into oncoming traffic. Moreover, the attorney pointed out that there was only a small amount of Valium in his client’s system and that police officers did not find Ragen to be impaired at the crash scene. Prosecutors, however, stated that there was no evidence indicating that an SUV was involved in the accident. In addition, they pointed out that Ragen’s GPS showed that he had made a U-turn at the overpass earlier in the day and was aware that his truck was too tall to go under the bridge.
Commenting on Ragen’s sentence, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice stated, “The irreparable damage caused by Mr. Ragen’s reckless actions will never be erased. Though nothing will bring back Mr. Guevara to his family, this sentence will ensure that this defendant will be held accountable for the pain and suffering he inflicted upon his victims that day.”
Ragen has a criminal record that includes drug convictions. The victims of the crash are in the process of filing a lawsuit against the cement truck company that hired Ragen even though he had a known history of taking drugs.
Website Resource: Truck driver Raymond Ragen found guilty of manslaughter in fatal school bus crash, NY Newsday, Bridget Murphy, April 16, 2014
Cement truck driver gets up to 15 years for fatal crash into LI school bus, Associated Press, July 3, 2014