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No charges will be filed in school bus crash outside Rogue River

Investigators may never know why a school bus driver crossed the center line near Rogue River last May and crashed head-on into a semi-truck, killing herself and seriously injuring two others.

"It's one of those cases where sometimes accidents just happen," Jackson County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz said this afternoon.

The District Attorney's Office today announced that no criminal charges will be filed in the crash, which occurred shortly after 9 a.m. May 19 in the 5200 block of North River Road, near the Murphy Plywood Mill. There were no students aboard the bus.

"There was no evidence that either driver was under the influence of any intoxicants, using a cell phone or traveling at an excessive speed," Markiewicz said in a news release. "There is no evidence of criminal conduct on the parties involved in this accident."

The bus driver, Teralyn Morgan, a 39-year-old mother of two from Wimer, had just dropped off students at Patrick Elementary School in Gold Hill and was heading north to Rogue River. Riding with her was student monitor Gary Randolph, 75, of Rogue River. Randolph told investigators he was wearing his seat belt and was looking out the front window when the crash occurred. "He did not believe Mrs. Morgan was speeding and did not observe her using her cellphone," Markiewicz said in the release.

The First Student bus crashed head-on into a Murphy Plywood tractor-trailer driven by Mark Minegar, 57, of Rogue River. Minegar suffered several broken ribs, a punctured lung and a couple of crushed vertebrae, according to the release. Randolph suffered a broken femur, fractured pelvis and possible internal injuries. Both were treated at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford and are recovering.

Markiewicz said the road was dry and glare from the sun would not have been a factor at that time in the morning. The medical examiner's report included nothing that would suggest Morgan had a medical condition that would have contributed to the crash, he said.

"It really is an unexplained deviation from her lane of travel," he said.

Minegar told investigators that he was traveling 40 to 45 mph and estimated Morgan's speed to be about the same when she veered into his lane. A drop-off at the shoulder meant Minegar "had nowhere to go in order to avoid the collision," according to the release.

The crash left the trailer on the road and the tractor in the ditch, Markiewicz said. 

Markiewicz said he was not aware of any complaints about Morgan's driving with First Student, and Morgan had no criminal history in Oregon, according to court records.

Jen Biddinger, a spokeswoman for First Student, said in May that Morgan had worked for the company since 2010, serving the Rogue River School District.

A Gofundme site was set up to help family members with funeral expenses, and $8,800 had been raised as of Monday. The site can be found at www.gofundme.com/uzgkd8r

Cathy Noah is city editor of the Mail Tribune. Reach her at 541-776-4473 or by email at cnoah@mailtribune.com.

Police and firefighters respond to a school bus crash May 19 in the 5200 block of North River Road near Rogue River. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell