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Florida Student Killed When Cell Phone Trucker Hits School Bus

Posted on September 25, 2008

Incredible details are coming out about a school bus crash in Citra, Florida that killed one 13-year old girl. A tractor-trailer driver was talking on his cell phone when he slammed into the school bus Wednesday. Four bystanders who witnessed the accident ran to the school bus and pulled out half of the students from the burning bus.

The Marion County Superintendent of School Jim Yancy says it amazing most of the students were saved. “This was a tragedy, but it’;s also a miracle, he tells the Ocala Star-Banner.

One 13-year old middle school student, Frances M. Schee lost her life.Chris Mann, an elevator installer who stopped to help said, “The kid was lodged and I just couldn’;t get her out. There was nothing I could do.” Nine other students were injured- two critically.

21 students in all were on the bus. 30-year old Reinaldo Gonzalez just rammed the bus and both vehicles caught fire.Gonzales says he was on the phone and just looked up a moment to notice the bus had stopped.

Yancy said, “I’;d say they probably got half the kids off the bus themselves, they were showing more grief and remorse from not being able to do more.”

Bus driver Gonzales was taken to the hospital with head injuries. Charges against him are pending.

Florida was among 17 states considering making it illegal for 15 to 17-year-old drivers to talk on cell phones while driving. Everyone would be forbidden from texting messaging while behind the wheel.

Introduced by Sen. Carey Baker R-Eustis, it was intended to improve Florida’;s teen driver record – the third worst crash record in the nation.

Traffic accidents are already the number one cause of death for teenage drivers but the bill met resistance from the phone companies and died in committee in May.

There would be confusion if you were pulled over to the side of the road using the phone and the car was still running. Would you be operating a vehicle?David Ramba, a lobbyist for the telecommunications industry told Tampabay.com “It would cause us problems, trying to explain to our customers what’s legal.”

Common sense dictates that Florida needs to get serious on this before more people die. Cell phone use takes too much focus away from the serious business of operating a vehicle on the road.