School bus driver fined in firefighter's death

RALEIGH The Wake County school bus crossed the center line on Ligon Mill Road and Horse Shoe Farm Road near Hwy 401 on the morning of Dec. 4, 2009.

The driver, 52-year-old Sheila Hall, side-swiped a car, then hit a pick-up truck head on.

The bus came to stop on the truck's cab, where firefighter Harry Flip Kissinger was behind the wheel.

Prosecutors said Thursday, Hall was not impaired, she was not talking on a cell phone and she was not distracted by any of the seven children on the bus. They said Hall simply took a turn to tightly and crossed into on-coming traffic.

The force of the impact pinned Kissinger in the truck. He died days later at WakeMed from a head injury.

He was a lieutenant with the Raleigh Fire Department and leaves behind two young daughters and a wife, who agreed to allow the bus driver to plead guilty to an infraction -- a traffic ticket.

Hall will receive no jail time or probation, just a $100 fine. She resigned as a Wake County school bus driver one week after the fatal crash.

Kissinger's wife, Jill, told Hall, "I'm sorry for you as well."

On Thursday, the judge told Kissinger's wife that her husband will be remembered.

"I just want your children to know that the judge in this case knows their father is a hero," Wake County Judge Ned Mangum said.

The judge noted the Kissinger family was filing a claim against the school system and a guilty plea, even to a traffic ticket, will help their case.

Kissinger joined the City of Raleigh Fire Department in 1997. He was assigned to Fire Station 6 on Fairview Road.

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