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Thu, March 21

School bus driver dies after fleeing pickup plows into his SUV



Prescott Valley resident Ronald E. Pogoda, 69, died Wednesday night after a collision with a pickup whose driver was fleeing Prescott Valley police.

Pogoda was a bus driver for Orme School, an independent school five miles north of Cordes Junction, said Alyce Brownridge, head of the school.

"Ron was a wonderful, delightful man," Brownridge said. "The community was very attached to him. He is going to be very much missed."

After disregarding a red light, the driver of the fleeing Dodge Dakota pick-up, Josiah David Fawcett, 23, also of Prescott Valley, plowed into the passenger side of the SUV Pogoda was driving, said Cmdr. Laura Molinaro of the Prescott Valley Police Department.

The accident happened at the intersection of Fain and Robert roads and Highway 89A, Molinaro said.

Prior to the collision, Molinaro continued, a Prescott Valley police officer saw Fawcett speeding and driving recklessly on Mission Drive and chased him, trying to make a traffic stop after they turned onto Robert Road.

Instead of stopping, Fawcett "accelerated to a higher rate of speed," Molinaro said in a press release.

When the officer told police dispatchers that Fawcett would not stop, a department sergeant followed department policy by ordering the officer to stop the chase, Molinaro explained.

Fawcett, however, continued to speed away with the officer -without lights and sirens - following him at a slower speed. About a half mile down the road, the officer came upon the accident, Molinaro said.

Helicopters flew both Fawcett and Pogoda to Phoenix hospitals, where Pogoda later died.

After hospital officials treated Fawcett, Department of Public Safety investigators arrested him on charges of second-degree vehicular homicide, Molinaro said. Additional charges are pending, she added.

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