Trucker gets 3 years in fatal bus crash

Posted on May 25, 2010

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.


Related Topics: fatalities, school bus crash

Comments ( 2 )
  • Robin Bellew

     | about 8 years ago

    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.

  • See all comments
More Stories

Driver Message Sign

The Driver Alert Message Sign is designed to help reduce illegal passing of school buses by improving direct line of sight visibility for oncoming drivers.


School Bus Driver Suspended After Bathroom Break to Keep Job

A New Jersey superintendent’s call to fire Gaye Kish for using her phone, having a friend board her bus, and taking a bathroom break during her route is rejected by the board of education. Kish cites a medical condition as the reason for taking the break.


Convertible Seating Solution

Blue Bird Corp. and HSM’s convertible NextGen seat allows the customer to change the seat back frame to have three-point belts or child restraints without having to purchase new seats.

A <I>PBS NewsHour</i> piece looks at the safety benefits and financial concerns involved in the issue of seat belts on school buses.

PBS Probes School Bus Seat Belt Debate

The PBS NewsHour piece looks at safety benefits and financial concerns involved in the issue. Interviews include transportation directors and NHTSA’s former administrator.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!