High school students hurt in bus-truck crash

The six, and other students on the bus, got a postponement on taking the FCAT.

Published March 2, 2005

BROOKSVILLE - Six Hernando High School students suffered minor injuries Tuesday morning when their school bus was sideswiped by a rock hauler during a three-vehicle accident on State Road 50.

Some of the 36 students who were on the bus at the time were scheduled to take the FCAT but were given a reprieve because of the accident, said Hernando High principal Betty Harper.

"Some were scheduled to take the exam, but they were not prepared to take it," Harper said. "Others came to school and decided to go home."

The accident happened about 7:30 a.m. as the bus stopped to pick up students on westbound lanes of SR 50 near Jasmine Road.

As driver John Lavender, 58, waited for the students to board the bus with its lights and signs activated, a semitrailer truck apparently did not see the line of other vehicles that had stopped for the bus in the inside lane.

The truck's driver, Billy Bennett, 58, of Palm Bay, tried to avoid the crash, but "realized that he couldn't stop in time," said Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Larry Coggins.

Bennett took evasive action and steered the semi to the right, according to an FHP report. The truck then sideswiped a rock hauler, causing a chain-reaction, Coggins said, that sent the rock hauler into the bus.

Neither Bennett nor the rock hauler's driver, Gregory Lovero, 56, of Brooksville, were injured. Bennett was cited for careless driving.

The six students were taken by ambulance to Brooksville Regional Hospital, where Harper met with them and their parents in the emergency room.

The students were treated and later released to their parents. Another school bus took the 30 unhurt classmates to Hernando High.

After they arrived at school, some of the students decided to go home. Most of them stayed on campus but were not ready to take the FCAT, Harper said.

"They will take a makeup," Harper said. "But thank God the students were all fine. I am glad it was good news."

Duane Bourne can be reached at 352 754-6114 or dbourne@sptimes.com