A woman who initially lied about her identity and still denies driving a van that slammed into a school bus, killing four children, was sentenced Wednesday to nearly 13 years in prison.
Olga Marina Franco Del Cid was sentenced on four counts of vehicular homicide in the Feb. 19 crash involving a bus from Lakeview School in the southwestern Minnesota town of Cottonwood.
Franco was extricated from the driver's seat of the minivan, which hit the school bus after barreling through a stop sign. But her attorneys tried to show during her trial in August that Franco's boyfriend was driving, fled the scene and hasn't been seen since.
"Franco's sentence will end," Lyon County District Judge David Peterson said. "For those parents dealing with injuries, it's a daily struggle. For the parents dealing with lost children, it's a lifetime of could-have-beens and might-have-beens that never will be."
Denies being the driver
Through an interpreter, Franco asked for forgiveness for using someone else's identity. She also asked for forgiveness for the crash, but still denied being the driver.
Lyon County Attorney Rick Maes said he had hoped for a tougher sentence. He noted that with good behavior, Franco's prison time could be reduced to eight years and four months.
"That doesn't seem like a lot of time for what happened," Maes said.
Franco's attorney, Manuel Guerrero, said he plans to appeal her conviction and doesn't agree with her sentence. "I don't think it was fair," he said. "I think it was excessive. It didn't fit the crime."
He said Franco has little understanding of the justice system and said she was a "little confused about what's going to happen to her now."
The children killed ranged in age from 9 to 13 and included two brothers. Fourteen other people were injured.