Skip to Content

School bus driver calls for tougher OWI response after crash

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

DEERFIELD (WKOW) -- A week after a crash threatened her and her passengers, a bus driver shared her story to raise awareness about drunken driving.

The crash happened in the Town of Christiana, near the intersection of Highway 73 and Koshkonong Rd. until 5 p.m.

Janette Becker said it's the route she takes her school bus to pick up and drop off one of her clients, a 17-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, and his nurse, who was eight months pregnant at the time.

"I drive that road four times a day," she said.

Since February 12, she said she hasn't been able to return.

"I remember this black truck coming up to the intersection," she said. "It went right through the stop sign."

According to police, the other driver was William Kaplan.

"He just kept coming and coming and towards my land and like he's not going to stop," she said.

Becker said the truck hit the driver's side wheel of her bus, breaking the axle.

"The next thing I know, the tree's just right in front of me," she said. "The bus just stopped."

Becker said she suffered a few broken ribs and a fractured collarbone. She hasn't been back to work since. The nurse was bruised and remains sore from the crash but her unborn child survived. She hasn't been able to return either.

The boy was unharmed.

"He was in his wheelchair, thank God for that, and he never moved," Becker said.

As for Kaplan, Dane County deputies arrested him for driving under the influence.

"When I found out that the guy had been drinking apparently, that just really made me mad," Becker said. "You would think after the first one you'd be done."

According to the Dane County Sheriff's Office, this would be his third OWI offense, his second in just over a month.

"Something's gotta be done to stop them," Becker said. "I don't know what they can do. I mean, take their license away but they're still gonna drive."

Court records show Kaplan's license was revoked in January but Becker said her experience proves that's not enough.

"The pain's still there, the thought of the bus and everything's still there," she said.

With her injuries, Becker said she can't drive, but knowing drivers like Kaplan are out on the road, she said it's going to be difficult to get back behind the wheel.

"I think it's going to be pretty hard to see that intersection everyday," she said. "I don't think I can do it."

Dane County deputies are still working to determine Kaplan's charges. If they determine Becker's injuries are severe enough, they could recommend a charge of third offense OWI causing bodily harm, a felony.

Otherwise, the third offense is a misdemeanor.

Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

Skip to content