Cottonwood, Minn. The van driver involved in the school bus crash in southwestern Minnesota that killed four students was charged Friday, and federal authorities say she is using an alias and in the United States illegally.
The woman, who is using the name Alianiss Nunez Morales, is charged with four counts of criminal vehicular homicide, running a stop sign and driving without a license at the time of the crash Tuesday afternoon near Cottonwood.
Lyon County Attorney Richard Maes confirmed Friday that the woman ran a stop sign when she hit the bus, which then fell onto a pickup truck. The truck driver, James Hancock, of Marshall, told the Star Tribune that the van ignored the stop sign.
The woman appeared in District Court on Friday morning in a wheelchair with one leg in a cast or bandage. Through an interpreter, she told the court that her name is Alianiss Morales, that she has been working in a Cottonwood cabinet shop for about a month and was living with her boyfriend in a Minneota, Minn., trailer but they broke up on the day of the crash.
Maes asked the judge to hold the woman without bail, citing her questionable identity. But the judge said that it would be wrong because none of the charges involve allegations of using false identification. However, the defendant's attorney, Manuel P. Guerrero, of St. Paul, protested that the bail set - $400,000 without conditions or $200,000 with an assortment of conditions - was akin to denying her bail because of her financial situation.
Her next court appearance is set for April 21.
"She's grief-stricken about the accident," Guerrero said of his client. "She's hurting about what happened to the kids."
Federal immigration investigator Claude Arnold said Friday morning that Morales is not the woman's name, and she is not revealing her real name. He added that she is in this country illegally, probably from Mexico.
Federal immigration spokesman Tim Counts said that the woman has been of "minimal helpfulness" to investigators, but "we will get to the bottom of matters."