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May 25, 2010  |   Comments (2)   |   Post a comment

Trucker gets 3 years in fatal bus crash


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CITRA, Fla. — The driver of a tractor-trailer that rammed into a stopped school bus here in 2008 has reportedly been sentenced to three years in prison.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, trucker Reinaldo Gonzalez pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and reckless driving causing serious bodily injury as part of a plea deal. The judge adjudicated him guilty and sentenced him to the prison term on Thursday.

The Sept. 23, 2008, crash claimed the life of 13-year-old Frances Schee and injured several others.

The Marion County Public Schools bus had stopped to drop off passengers when it was rear-ended by the truck. Both vehicles burst into flames.

Four passersby pulled students from the bus until the flames became too intense. Officials credited those men with “saving lives and preventing a much more devastating outcome,” the district said in a statement after the accident.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the truck driver told investigators that he was using his cell phone before crashing into the bus, which had its stop arms extended and lights flashing.

The truck rammed the bus forward nearly 300 feet, investigators said. There reportedly were no skid marks.

Schee’s mother, Elissa Schee, went on to become a founding member of FocusDriven, an advocacy group for victims of crashes involving drivers using cell phones.

 


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I have to wonder if this accident could have been avoided if the driver had used their mirrors to see if that truck was slowing down or not. Most of the accidents I have read about could have been avoided if we as drivers used them more. You can not trust anyone out there. It is like we drive a big yellow box with a bull seye on it.

Robin Bellew    |    May 29, 2010 05:17 AM

This is the very reason we ALL need to re-think if we, ourselves, can or should be using cell phones when driving. Anyone who is honest will admit that they can not operate their vehicle safely while on the cell phone. I see police officers, truckers, bus drivers, almost everyone driving and on a device of somekind. I am actually surprised we do not have many more people killed. It is a full time chore for MADD.org to fight drunk drivers with new laws. What organization will spring up to protect people from cell phone use in moving vehicles? If Law Enforcement is observed on the phone while driving - where does that leave the rest of us? The trucking industry needs to police itself better. Insurance companys will be seeking cell phone records now of anyone involved in a crash just to see if they were on a cell phone at that time. So we should all work at getting this under control. If it is vital or an emergency to be on a phone while in your vehicle - then try pulling off at a gas station or side road. What are your thoughts?

Dan Luttrell    |    May 26, 2010 06:17 AM

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