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Stevensville woman facing multiple charges following school bus crash

76-year-old Janette Viola Sessions is facing 10 counts of felony child endangerment as well as Driving While Under the Influence.
Stevensville School Bus Crash Fence
Posted at 10:01 AM, May 31, 2023

STEVENSVILLE — A school bus driver is facing multiple charges following a May 23, 2023, crash that happened near Stevensville.

The Ravalli County Attorney’s Office has charged 76-year-old Janette Viola Sessions of Stevensville with 10 counts of felony child endangerment as well as Driving While Under the Influence and Failure to Give Notice of a crash.

Sessions is accused of veering off the road on the corner of Three Mile Road and Ridge Road and then going through a resident's fence while several students were on board the school bus. Court documents state that 9-1-1 dispatchers received several reports at approximately 8 a.m. on May 23 that a school bus was “involved in hit and run crashes with fences.”

Ravalli County Attorney Bill Fullbright states that following the first crash, the school bus reentered the road and then Sessions collided with another fence on the opposite side of the road. Charging documents also state Sessions was unable to back the school bus back onto the road, so she drove into a field to turn around and “flee the scene of the crashes.”
Sessions is accused of continuing her school bus route and picking up additional children until she was stopped by law enforcement on Eastside Highway north of Stevensville. According to court documents, a Montana Highway Patrol trooper observed that Sessions “appeared unsteady.”

Sessions told law enforcement that she hit a fence and that three fence posts “just fell over.” Sessions added that she “didn’t know” she had to stop, so she kept going, documents state. Sessions told law enforcement that the children on the bus were yelling at her with court documents stating, “she told them to sit down and shut up.”

Court documents say Sessions denied using alcohol or drugs but had taken a “water pill,” anti-anxiety medication and an aspirin. However, Sessions is accused of failing a sobriety test. Blood samples taken from the test have been sent to the State Crime Lab in Missoula for analysis.

Bond in the case was set by a judge at $5,000. Sessions is not in custody at this time. Click here to view the documents associated with the case.