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87-year-old driver arrested in crash that killed girl walking home from school bus stop

A woman embraces a young girl as they walk away from a crash scene
People leave the scene of a crash involving a school bus near Desert Hot Springs on Thursday night. A girl was killed when a car plowed into a group of children after rear-ending a school bus.
(Taya Gray / Palm Springs Desert Sun)

A driver was arrested on suspicion of rear-ending a school bus in the Coachella Valley on Thursday and then plowing his Cadillac into a group of children walking home, killing a 9-year-old girl and injuring three other youngsters.

Robert Hanson of Desert Hot Springs, 87, was booked late Thursday on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run resulting in death, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department inmate information website.

It wasn’t immediately clear Friday whether he had an attorney to speak on his behalf.

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The crash occurred shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday near Desert Hot Springs, north of Palm Springs.

Students from Julius Corsini Elementary School had been dropped off at a bus stop and were walking home on an unpaved shoulder of the road when the 1994 white Cadillac rear-ended another school bus that was nearby, authorities said.

The Cadillac then drove around the bus, went onto the shoulder, hit a speed limit sign and struck four children, California Highway Patrol officials said.

Monica Gonzalez Guzman, 9, of Desert Hot Springs died at the scene.

An 8-year-old boy suffering from major injuries and an 11-year-old girl with minor injuries were taken to the hospital, the Highway Patrol said, and a 12-year-old girl was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Hanson also was taken to the hospital for examination.

The crash was under investigation, but the Highway Patrol had ruled out driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs as a factor, the Desert Sun in Palm Springs reported.

“It is overwhelming to hear and process this kind of tragic news,” Mike Swize, superintendent of the Palm Springs Unified School District, said in a statement.

He added: “We want our families and staff to know that we are here for them to provide any support they need now or in the coming days and weeks ahead.”


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