Laura Mae Gish

Tour bus driver and Goleta resident Laura Mae Gish, 52, was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in prison ― the maximum under the law ― for causing a crash last January that seriously injured several passengers.

According to prosecutors, Gish was driving the 25-passenger Volvo bus southbound on Highway 101 near Los Alamos when she passed out at the wheel. The bus drifted off the road, hit a tree, and rolled over on its side in a culvert. One passenger suffered a broken jaw, two sustained spinal fractures, and several others received cuts and scratches. A toxicology report showed Gish was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time.

“Deputy District Attorney Madison Whitmore did an excellent job holding this driver accountable for her criminal actions,” said District Attorney Joyce Dudley in a prepared statement. “People who step onto a bus must feel confident and trust that their professional driver will make their safety paramount.”

Gish had been a driver for AmericanStar Tours since December 2018. She and the company are now defendants in five civil lawsuits filed by passengers.


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