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.