On Tuesday, Oklahoma Highway Patrol investigators tentatively identified the female passenger of an SUV who died in Friday's triple fatality bus crash in Seminole County, while more information has surfaced about the driver of the SUV that hit the Konawa school bus head-on.
Troopers first said they had tentatively identified the driver of the SUV as John Tallbear, 61, of Asher, but were unsure of the identify of his female passenger. After visiting with family members, the OHP tentatively identified the passenger Tuesday as Shari Moore, also known as Shari Dockrey of Earlsboro, pending a positive identification by the Medical Examiner.
Tallbear's identification is also pending positive ID by the Medical Examiner.
The OHP reports that Tallbear's vehicle slammed head-on into a Konawa school bus, resulting in his death, the death of his passenger and one student on the school bus. That student has been named through obituary information as Rhindi K. Isaacs, a 12-year-old Konawa student who was a member of the Junior High Softball team.
Five other softball team members on the bus, and their coach, who was driving, were injured in the accident.
Although the crash remains under investigation by the patrol, more information has surfaced regarding Tallbear and his past.
According to court records, Tallbear was scheduled to appear in Pottawatomie County District Court on Monday for a misdemeanor case filed last month. On Feb. 28, Tallbear was charged with misdemeanors of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, driving with a license cancelled, suspended or revoked, failure to stop at a red light and speeding.
Before being charged last month, Tallbear had prior DUI convictions from 1986 and 1990, according to the Department of Corrections. But for a total for 26 years, he was incarcerated with the Department of Corrections for a 1991 Oklahoma County murder conviction, but he was exonerated through DNA evidence in 2018.
According to a story by The Innocence Project, Tallbear was released from prison in June 2018 after DNA evidence proved he didn't commit that 1991 murder.
While cause of the March 8 crash in Seminole County remains under investigation by the patrol, troopers, based on their initial report, indicate Tallbear had just passed another vehicle before his SUV hit the bus.
The crash occurred just after 7 p.m. on US 377, about one mile south of Bowlegs in Seminole County.
The OHP said the Konawa Blue Bird bus, driven by Joseph Scoggins, 30, Konawa, was southbound. Tallbear's SUV, going northbound, had passed another northbound vehicle and stayed in the southbound lane, the patrol said. Scoggins took evasive action in the bus and swerved into the northbound lane to avoid a collision, but the SUV swerved back into the northbound lane and hit the bus head-on, the OHP said, pinning both driver and passenger of the SUV before both vehicles caught fire.
While Konawa's superintendent has publicly said on Facebook that a drunk driver hit the school bus, that allegation has not been confirmed and the OHP has reported Tallbear's condition before that accident happened is still under investigation. Autopsy results are awaited from the Office of the chief Medical Examiner.
The crash and death of the Konawa student athlete has brought the Konawa school district and town together. A crisis management team made up of outside organizations trained in crisis counseling along with local clergy in assisting in Konawa as the school district and community prepares for Rhindi's Memorial Service, which is scheduled 10 a.m. March 15 in the Konawa Public School Performing Arts Center.
According to the obituary from Swearingen Funeral Home, Rhindi, the daughter of Haydon Bryant and Jessi Kay Isaacs, was a sixth grade student at Konawa and also attended Bethlehem Baptist Church. She loved to make slime and to buy shoes and hoodies, and she loved all of her teammates on the softball team.
No obituary information has been received for Tallbear or the female passenger.
Watch for updates.