No change of plea for school bus driver charged in girl’s death

Tendzin Parsons will stand trial on a charge of negligent homicide

Tendzin Parsons, 70, of Hawley, is seen here during his arraignment in Northampton District Court on a charge of negligent motor vehicle homicide in the death of 9 year-old Summer Steele.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A former school bus driver changed his mind about changing his plea Friday, when the judge suggested he serve jail time for an incident that resulted in the death of nine-year-old Summer Steele last year.

Northwestern District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Mary Carey said the driver, Tendzin Parsons, was expected to change his plea Friday in Northampton District Court, but he changed his mind in court Friday and decided he’ll stand trial.

Parsons pleaded not guilty to negligent motor vehicle homicide at his arraignment in May in connection with the death of Steele.

Carey said after the judge informed Parsons he would impose a one-year sentence in the House of Correction, rather than impose a suspended sentence and probation, Parsons decided he would not plead guilty.

Not guilty plea for bus driver charged in 9 year-old girl’s death

The 70-year-old Parsons is due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on October 17.

Parsons was a bus driver for elementary-age children.

Last October, he was driving the school bus that Steele was on, when she got caught in the bus’s door as she was dropped off at her house. Steele died as a result of injuries from the accident.

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Parsons was originally released on the conditions that he give up his passport, not drive a motor vehicle, and not leave the state without permission from the probation department.

Steele was a third grader at Sanderson Academy in Ashfield.