Clark man sentenced to 22 years for deadly bus crash

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COLUMBIA - Brandon Brill was sentenced to 22 consecutive years Tuesday for killing a Harrisburg coach after he drove into oncoming traffic. 

Brill plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and assault after the accident last September. He received a sentence of 15 years for involuntary manslaughter and 7 years for assault. 

The bus was carrying Brian Simpson, Harrisburg School District's cross-country coach, and the girls cross country team. Simpson was pronounced dead at the scene. All of the girls survived the crash.

According to courtroom testimony Tuesday, Brill was driving while fatigued after a long shift at work. His defense attorney said that was what lead to the accident. 

"I think it was just a terrible day for both sides to go through," said Harrisburg Superintendent of Schools Steve Combs. "Just a rollercoaster of emotion and of course our heart goes out a little bit to the Brill family, but most of it is to the families of the children and the Simpson family with what they have to endure." 

"Every time I run I dedicate it to Mr. Simpson," said one of Simpson's cross country runners in Tuesday's final testimony from witnesses. 

Some students present for the testimony wore "Simpson Strong" bracelets in honor of their coach. 

"Our kids are resilient, remembering the difference he made and he'll continue to make a difference in our community," Combs said.

Brandi Stauffacher, the mother of Brill's two daughters, was present at the sentencing. 

"I have two kids with Brandon, so they're definitely going to be missing their dad while he's gone," said Stauffacher. "I know it doesn't suffice for the fact that another life was taken, but I just don't know how to go home and tell my kids now."

Brill and Stauffacher's daughters are 4 and 5 years old. 

"I think he already knows that he has hurt a lot of people and that this was a bad tragedy... I think he feels bad," Stauffacher said.

Stauffacher also said she feels for Simpson's family. 

"Mrs. Simpson's testimony hit me hard, I couldn't imagine losing someone like that without a choice," said Stauffacher about the testimony from Simpson's wife.

A KOMU Target 8 investigation from October 2017 found Brill had a pattern of illegal driving, and he was driving with an invalid license at the time of the crash. 

According to family members' testimony, Brill suffered from Aspergers and ADHD, which they said they assume led to his previous record.

Combs said Simpson will have a lasting impact the Harrisburg community. 

"Every day is a reminder of what a great man he was, what a great influence he had on our students and our community, just what an impact," said Combs.

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