Crystal River Pick-Up Truck Driver Killed in Crash with School Bus, 10 Children Injured

January 21, 2020

One person was killed Wednesday morning in a crash involving a school bus.

According to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, the crash happened between a school bus and a pick-up truck on Bourassa Boulevard and Commercial Way in the Weeki Wachee area.

The pick-up truck driver, a 69-year-old Crystal River man, was killed when his vehicle struck the back of the school bus.

Ten children on the bus suffered minor injuries. There were 48 students on the bus, which was serving the Winding Waters (K-8) School.

Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins said the bus had slowed to let pedestrians cross and was preparing to turn when the pick-up struck the back of the bus.

Hernando County School District representatives responded to the scene, along with deputies, troopers, and Fire/Rescue responders.

The roadway was closed for several hours.

As a parent, the most important thing is the safety of your children. When they are old enough to attend school, you may put them on a bus to school five days a week, entrusting that the bus driver and school district will keep them free from danger and harm. When a child’s school bus is involved in a crash with another vehicle, this can be a horrifying experience for a parent or caregiver. Receiving a phone call from the school or hospital telling you your child has suffered harm while on the school bus can cause severe anxiety and worry as well as rouse up some angry emotions because your child was hurt because of someone else’s negligence.

It is actually quite common for school-bus related accidents to be caused by other drivers simply failing to follow the rules of the road. According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), there were 3,177 total school bus crashes in 2018 throughout the state of Florida. In 2017, there were 3,222 in Florida. In 2018, there were 24 school bus crashes in Hernando County alone. In 2017, there were 14.

In the state of Florida, drivers are required to stop when a school bus stops to let students on or off. Many children are harmed every year when drivers fail to stop or try to pass a school bus while children are crossing the street to get on the bus or after exiting the bus.

Penalties for passing a stopped school bus in Florida include:

  • Moving violation subject to citation
  • Requirement to complete a basic Driver Improvement Course upon conviction
  • Four points on your driver’s license
  • Minimum fine of $165, if you pass on the side where children enter and exit, you will receive a minimum fine of $265.

On July 1, 2017, the Cameron Mayhew Act took effect in Florida, which increases the minimum penalty for drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus, resulting in the injury or death of another person. Cameron Mayhew was killed by a motorist that failed to stop as he was walking to his stopped school bus in 2016.

Penalties for passing a stopped school bus that causes or results in serious bodily injury or the death of another person include:

  • Serving 120 community service hours in a trauma center or hospital
  • Participating in a victim’s impact panel session, or if such a panel does not exist, attending a FLHSMV approved driver improvement course
  • Six points on your driver’s license
  • Suspension of license for a minimum of one year
  • $1,500 fine

When a school bus crash involves a car or truck hitting the bus, injuries can be pretty severe since many school buses are not required to have seat belts to protect students in the event of an accident. School bus accidents also can involve injuries to numerous students, making lawsuits seeking financial compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, etc. somewhat complicated.

If your child was injured in a school bus accident where another motor vehicle hit a school bus, you may be able to recover monetary compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You may be entitled to recover for all medical expenses related to the accident, both present and future, as well as receive compensation for your child’s pain and suffering resulting from the injury. Other types of damages for which you might be compensated include loss of normal life, emotional distress, and disability or disfigurement.

Our Hernando County Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you understand what to do after a school bus crash has left your child injured. We will begin by investigating the accident, which can include obtaining photographs of the crash site, accident reports, witness statements, copies of insurance policies and other documents and evidence to support your claim. We will also review your medical bills. From there we can make a demand for compensation to the insurance company and negotiate a fair settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, then we will file a lawsuit and try the case when necessary.

If your child was injured in a school bus-related accident, we recommend consulting with us right away. We have significant experience with these kinds of claims and can make sure you and your child are protected. It is imperative to identify who is liable for your child’s injuries, and we can sift through the facts, evidence, and complicated legal principles involved to make sure your case is solid. Our number one priority is to work toward the best possible outcome for your family.

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