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School bus attendant testifies at cement truck driver's trial

Louis Kragouras, 65, of Bethpage, leaves the Nassau

Louis Kragouras, 65, of Bethpage, leaves the Nassau County Court in Mineola on Thursday, March 27, 2014. The school bus attendant testified about surviving a July 2012 collision with a cement mixer in Locust Valley that killed the driver of a mini-school bus and left him and four children injured. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Grimacing in pain, a school bus attendant testified Thursday about surviving a cement truck collision in Locust Valley that also injured four children and killed the bus driver.

Louis Kragouras, 65, of Bethpage, walked into a Mineola courtroom with the help of a cane. He leaned on the jury box on the way to the witness stand, where he spoke slowly and often dabbed at his face with a handkerchief.

"I have no recollection of whatever happened to me," he testified of the July 2012 crash, recalling that he blacked out before awakening inside the crushed bus with other victims.

The testimony came on the second day of Raymond Ragen's trial for aggravated vehicular homicide.

Authorities claim the Mineola man drove a cement mixer into a Long Island Rail Road overpass on Oyster Bay Road that he knew was too low for his vehicle, then collided head-on with a bus bringing autistic children home from summer camp.

Prosecutors have said he was high on Valium and using his cellphone at the time.

Ragen, 45, has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer, David Besso, has told jurors not every accident is the result of criminal actions.

Besso elicited testimony from one police officer that Ragen didn't appear impaired when he talked to him briefly at the scene. The officer said Ragen did seem unfocused, but he got diverted from further impairment testing. He also testified that Ragen changed his account of how the crash happened as he questioned him.

Bus driver Jorge Guevara, 45, a father of four, died of blunt-force injuries after being pinned in the wreck, according to other testimony.

Kragouras recalled calling out to Guevara after waking up inside the crumpled vehicle.

"I yelled his name out. No response," he said.

The bus attendant testified that rescuers took three children off the bus, before he told them there was another boy who needed help.

"I have one more," Kragouras recalled saying of a 6-year-old buried in debris and crying.

The attendant said rescuers dragged him off the bus because he couldn't stand after multiple bone fractures.

Kragouras said he had a number of surgeries, including a hip replacement, and now has a steel rod in a knee.

"I've been in pain ever since," he said, adding he no longer plays soccer or tennis and can't bend to put on socks.

He agreed he'd filed a lawsuit after the crash, but said it didn't affect his testimony.

The trial continues Tuesday.

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