GREENFIELD, Indiana — The driver of a church bus facing charges after the vehicle overturned, killing a 6-year-old boy and injuring 11 others, said Tuesday that he is innocent and the bus had mechanical problems.
Charles Goodman, 53, of Chicago, told reporters at his initial court appearance that the vehicle's problems were responsible for the July 28 crash on Interstate 70 about 20 miles east of Indianapolis.
"The bus had problems. Suspension problems. It had power steering problems. The bus was overheating. The bus was stopping while I was driving," Goodman said.
"The tires on the driver's side blew up and the truck went sideways. Then we went into the ravine and that's what happened. I had no control over the bus," he said.
Goodman is charged with reckless homicide and driving with a suspended license. A judge appointed a public defender for him Tuesday. He's being held in the Hancock County Jail in Greenfield on $30,000 bond.
"I've got a license. Check Illinois," Goodman said. "I am not licensed in Indiana."
Authorities have said Goodman doesn't hold an Illinois license and has been driving on a suspended license for nearly a decade.
"My license was not suspended from Illinois. I've got proof of it at my house in Illinois," Goodman said.
Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton says Goodman has admitted falling asleep at the wheel.
Goodman was driving a group from St. Jude Family Worship Center in Gary, Indiana, to a religious convention in Ohio. The crash killed 6-year-old Jacob Williams of Gary.
Goodman suffered a broken arm and a fractured jaw in the crash. He was released from the hospital Monday.