An attorney said video will show that a Norman elementary school principal was using his cellphone when he crashed a bus filled with students in Texas, injuring 27 passengers -- a claim the principal has denied.
David L. Smith, an attorney representing a girl who was critically injured in the crash, asked a judge to order Norman Public Schools to release the bus video he says will prove Ty Bell was using his cellphone Sept. 29, when he lost control of the school bus. Bell had been driving Cleveland Elementary School students to Sea World in San Antonio.
Smith said the Texas Highway Patrol requested the video for their investigation, but the district refused to cooperate.
"The Texas Highway Patrol suspected Ty Bell was using his cellphone at the time of the crash and caused the crash," Smith wrote in his request. "The bus in question is equipped with video, which shows the actions of Ty Bell at the time of the crash. Norman Public Schools possesses this video."
Bell's defense attorney, former Cleveland County judge Tracy Schumacher, called the cellphone claim "false and untrue."
"The Texas law enforcement officers investigated the use of a cellphone by Ty Bell immediately prior to and at the time of the accident. They found none," Schumacher said. "There were two adults seated directly behind Ty Bell who could have seen cellphone use. They saw none."
In a written response released Thursday, Schumacher said the investigating officer made no indication in their report that Bell was suspected of using his phone during the crash.
"On behalf of my client, I am demanding a retraction and apology by any person who has stated that the Texas Highway Patrol officer suspected that Ty Bell was using his cell phone at the time of the accident or that cellphone use caused the accident," Schumacher wrote.
Norman Public Schools filed a separate motion seeking an order to protect "the confidentiality of the video of the crash." Superintendent Nick Migliorino denied that the district had refused to hand over the video to the highway patrol.
Cleveland County District Judge Michael D. Tupper has yet to rule on the video request.
The Texas Department of Public Safety listed speed as a factor in the bus crash that injured three adults and 24 fifth-grade girls. The bus hydroplaned on a wet road, rolled over and struck a fence.
The DPS report states the driver took "faulty evasive action," causing him to lose control. Three students and two teachers were seriously injured, according to the report.
The Transcript's Mack Burke contributed to this report.