Minor injuries reported after school bus crash in Clearwater

- Clearwater Police are investigating a crash involving a car and a Pinellas County school bus. Tuesday afternoon, the car hit the bus, causing it to slam into a concrete pole, which fell on top of it.

It happened at Fort Harrison Avenue and Drew Street around 2:30 p.m. Both drivers were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. They're expected to be okay.

But, what has everyone thanking their lucky stars is, there was only one child on that school bus at the time of the crash and they were not hurt.

It was just another afternoon of driving students home for the bus driver when another car came out of nowhere.

"The bus had the green light and was proceeding through the light when this car hit the bus and the bus swerved over and hit the pole," said witness Jon Weaver.

Weaver, a former firefighter, was driving a few feet behind the bus.

"And then, everything from there went boom," Weaver said. "It sounded like a big bang when it hit. And, the dust wall came up from hitting the pole."

The front end of the bus was mangled from the weight of the heavy concrete traffic light pole, the door was crushed and the driver was trapped in his seat.

"The wreckage from the pole had pretty much collapsed the whole driver's area around him, especially, his legs," said Clearwater Police spokesperson Rob Shaw.

Clearwater Police say the bus, driven by 54-year-old Joseph Morgan, was traveling south on Fort Harrison Avenue. The car, driven by 58-year-old Edward Burke, was traveling west on Drew Street. Based on preliminary information, police say the car ran the red light, colliding with the bus and causing it to veer into the pole.

"I got out to see if there was anything I could do to help," Weaver said. "There was only one child on board, so, that was a good thing."

It took firefighters nearly 45 minutes, removing seats and using the jaws of life to finally free the injured bus driver. Police say he suffered injuries to his legs.

"I'd say the driver was fortunate not to have more serious injuries," Shaw said. "The impact of that pole it could've gone through the top of the bus. It could have had a lot more impact than it did."

The sight of the yellow bus, with its twisted metal and broken glass, stopped many in their tracks, fearful of how bad it could have been, had it been filled with students.

"You know what the outcome is gonna be but you're in shock of everything that goes on, especially, something like this," said Weaver. "You don't know what to expect. The first thing you think is how many kids are on board?"

We've not yet heard if the other driver will face charges.

The intersection at Fort Harrison Avenue and Drew Street is back open. However, drivers will want to use extra caution. Due to the crash. The traffic lights had to be taken down. Until crews can make the repairs, this intersection will operate as a 4-way stop. 

 

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