Operations

CA Operator Pleads Innocent On Charges Related To Party Bus Death

Posted on May 20, 2013

25-year-old Natasha Noland died July 27, 2012, while riding in one of the defendant's buses.
25-year-old Natasha Noland died July 27, 2012, while riding in one of the defendant's buses.

[UPDATED: 5/20/13, 2:40 p.m. PT]

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The former owner of a Santa Cruz party bus company pleaded not guilty Friday to vehicular and voluntary manslaughter charges in the death of a female passenger.

Jon Reno St. James, 56, gray-haired and wearing glasses, offered the plea during his arraignment on the charges at the Hall of Justice in San Jose Friday morning.

Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Rise Jones Pichon ordered a jury trial on the charges to begin on July 1 and set a hearing for May 22 to consider St. James' request to be released or have his bail reduced.

KTVU article here

<<end update>>

SAN JOSE -- A grand jury has decided an owner's alleged shoddy oversight of his party-bus line warranted manslaughter charges after a Santa Cruz woman fell out of one of the vehicles during a fight and died on Highway 17 last summer, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Jon Reno St. James, 56, who operates Party Bus of Santa Cruz, was charged with vehicular manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter on May 3 and was located and arrested Wednesday near his Southern California home in Yucca Valley.

Authorities say 25-year-old Natasha Noland of Felton died in July when she was run over by a bus St. James owns after falling out of it during a fight with another passenger while on Highway 17 near Los Gatos.

The indictment, which has been sealed by a judge since May 3, accuses St. James of "gross negligence" in failing to properly maintain his bus fleet and by extension endangering passengers. It is a rare instance that a fleet owner is charged with a death in one of his vehicles without being the one physically operating it.

San Jose Mercury-News article here

KSBW-TV/Channel 8 report here

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