Bus driver gets probation after manslaughter conviction

Willie Leonberger, left, chats with relatives after he received five years of probation Wednesday from a four-year prison sentence for second-degree involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of a North Callaway School District student, Hunter Pitt. Leonberger was driving a school bus that ran over and killed the youngster. Leonberger pleaded guilty to the charge.

Willie Leonberger, left, chats with relatives after he received five years of probation Wednesday from a four-year prison sentence for second-degree involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of a North Callaway School District student, Hunter Pitt. Leonberger was driving a school bus that ran over and killed the youngster. Leonberger pleaded guilty to the charge. Photo by Don Norfleet.

FULTON, Mo. — A 78-year-old man who was driving a school bus that struck and killed a 6-year-old boy in January 2011 received five years of probation Wednesday after he was given a suspended sentence of four years in prison.

With about 30 family and friends supporting him in the courtroom, Willie R. Leonberger, Auxvasse, was convicted in Callaway County Circuit Court on a felony charge of second-degree involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of 6-year-old Hunter Pitt on Jan. 18, 2011.

The accident occurred at 3:50 p.m. on Callaway County Road 182 near the North Outer Road of Interstate 70. Pitt and another North Callaway School District student had just gotten off the bus at 9803 County Road 182.

On Nov. 21, Leonberger pleaded guilty to involuntary second degree manslaughter.

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