Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Out-of-Control Log Truck Slams into School Bus; 7 Children Injured near Starke; Naked Woman a Passenger in Truck

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Out-of-Control Log Truck Slams into School Bus; 7 Children Injured near Starke; Naked Woman a Passenger in Truck

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits & Derek Gilliam

An out-of-control log truck slammed into a stopped school bus dropping off elementary students in the rain Monday afternoon near Starke, injuring seven children and three adults, authorities said.

Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith described a chaotic scene with two children still trapped on the bus and an injured woman lying naked on the ground when he arrived about the same time as responding deputies.

Smith said the woman, who was a passenger in the log truck, appeared to have been ejected from the vehicle, but he wasn't sure.

"I just remember grabbing something and throwing it over her," he said. "... There were kids and parents."

Children were screaming and crying. One little girl worried about a friend still inside.

Motorists called the Florida Highway Patrol to report that the log truck, which wasn't hauling a load, was driving erratically before the crash, Smith said. However, the Highway Patrol is investigating the crash and hasn't released a cause or citations.

The reason the unidentified woman was naked is undetermined, Smith said.

Smith said because of the rain, several of the Starke Elementary students' parents were waiting at the stop when it happened.

The crash happened about 2:30 p.m. on U.S. 301 just north of Water Oak Creek.

School district spokesman Brian Graham said seven of the 15 students on the bus were taken by ambulance to a hospital. He said the bus was near the end of its route and stopped when the log truck rear-ended it.

He said some of the students were standing when the bus was struck, but that no one had yet attempted to get off at the stop.

The two drivers and the woman passenger in the log truck also were hospitalized.

Some of the injuries are serious, but none is believed to be fatal, Graham said.

Smith said witnesses told him the driver of the log truck didn't appear to hit the brakes.

He said the bus driver, Jennifer Swanson, saw the log truck barreling down the road and mashed the gas, which somewhat softened the blow to the bus. …

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