77-year-old bus driver charged

FULTON — Charges were filed Friday afternoon against the North Callaway school bus driver who hit and killed a student in January.

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The Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney’s office filed a charge of second-degree involuntary manslaughter, a class D felony, against Willie Leonberger, 77, of Auxvasse. On Jan. 18, Leonberger hit and ran over 6-year-old Hunter Pitt after dropping him off in front of his home in Williamsburg after school.

The official complaint states: “The defendant caused the death of H.P. by striking H.P. with a motor vehicle and did so with criminal negligence in that the defendant was operating the motor vehicle, a school bus, and failed to make certain that H.P., having exited the bus, had cleared the path of the school bus before the defendant moved the school bus.”

In the probable cause statement, responding Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Justin Turner wrote that Leonberger stated Pitt and an older sibling jumped off the bus, and “he did not see anything out of the ordinary.”

“Leonberger stated he started to accelerate the school bus when a passenger yelled at him to stop,” Turner wrote.

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