19 Investigates: School bus driver cited in Stark County rollover has long history of crashes, traffic violations

Debra Weisel, who also crashed a school bus with children on board in 2018, has been placed on administrative leave.
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 6:14 PM EDT
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STARK COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - The woman who crashed a school bus full of students Monday afternoon in Stark County has a long history of accidents and traffic violations, according to documents uncovered by 19 Investigates.

Records from police and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles show Debra Weisel, 58, of Hartville, has been involved in at least nine traffic accidents since 2002, including Monday’s rollover crash in Marlboro Township that sent Weisel and five students to nearby hospitals.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol said Weisel, who works for Marlington Local Schools, was driving on Beeson Street around 2:37 p.m. when she went off the side of the road and hit several traffic signs.

The school bus, which was carrying 19 students at the time, then overturned into a ditch.

OSHP cited Weisel for failure to control a motor vehicle.

She has been placed on administrative leave pending the completion of OSHP’s investigation into the crash, according to Marlington Local Schools Superintendent Daniel Swisher.

19 Investigates found Monday’s rollover was not the first time Weisel crashed a school bus with children on board.

Police records show she was driving young Marlington Local students to school on a Monday morning in October 2018 when she “went off the right side of the roadway,” sideswiped a utility pole with the bus, and then ended up in ditch.

“The student passengers used the emergency exit in the back of the bus to exit the bus to safety,” a Marlboro Township officer wrote in his report.

Weisel was cited for failure to control, a minor misdemeanor, and entered a no contest plea, but an Alliance Municipal Court judge found her guilty of the traffic offense.

Marlboro Township police also cited Weisel in January 2018 after she rear-ended another driver, stating she “failed to maintain a safe stopping distance.” She pleaded guilty to assured clear distance.

19 Investigates obtained a copy of Weisel’s driving record history from the BMV.

The two 2018 crashes in Marlboro Township were not included in the BMV report, but it did highlight six other accidents that Weisel had been involved in between 2002 and 2012 in Stark County, including three crashes in 2010.

BMV and court records confirm that she was cited and convicted in at least three of the six crashes.

Weisel’s history of traffic violations in Stark County dates back to 1991, when she was found guilty of failing to control her vehicle and not having a child properly restrained.

Between 1999 and 2018, records show she was convicted in six separate cases for various traffic violations, including failure to control, driving left of center, running a stop sign, and three citations for assured clear distance.

The six convictions resulted in 12 points added to Weisel’s driving record.

Points only remain on a person’s official driving record for three years, according to the BMV.

In Ohio, drivers can receive a 12-point suspension if they receive 12 or more points on their driving record, but only if they receive the 12 points within a two-year period.

Swisher said the school district’s policy is that bus drivers cannot receive more than six points on their license within a two-year period.

The points Weisel received over the years for her traffic convictions would not be in violation of the district’s policy.

19 Investigates briefly spoke with Weisel at her home on Tuesday, but she declined our request for an interview.