Crash near bus stop leaves student hospitalized remainder of 8th-grade year

There's a student missing from the school bus stop at 59th Street East and 5th Street East in Bradenton.

Instead, Leticia Martinez's 14-year old son, Gabrielle is in the hospital. 

"Every single day he wants to go to school," said Martinez. "He's sad he can’t go to school for the rest of the year."

Nearly two weeks ago, the eighth-grader at Electa Arcotte Lee Magnet Middle School waited at his bus stop. 

He was off the road and away from cars but minutes before his bus arrived he was hit by a car. 

The Florida Highway Patrol says a van, driven by Hector Garrido, ran the stop sign at 5th Street East. His car collided with an oncoming car along 59th Street East. The collision forced the oncoming car across both lanes of traffic and into Gabrielle. 

"When I see my son, all blood and everywhere, it was really really bad," said Martinez. 

Gabrielle was flown to the hospital. For more than a week, he remained critical and underwent multiple surgeries. 

"A broken pelvis, collar bone broken, nose broken, the leg is the more damaged, and road rash all over. Bones can heal, but we have a long road," his mom said. 

It's a road Gabrielle has faced before. Two years ago Gabrielle's mom said he was hit by a car while crossing the road. 

"I'm really concerned because this is not the first time it hasn’t happened," said Martinez. 

She said the driver claimed fog was to blame. Her son walked away with a broken arm. 

"The main concern is the cars don’t take care of the limit. The cars pass way too fast," said Martinez. 

The Manatee County School District said they will go to the bus stop and evaluate the safety of the location but Martinez and others still worry. 

"It's a safety issue for the kids. A lot of them get dropped off right there. Some people run the stop sign," said Esperanza Castillo. 

Crash reports from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office show four crashes at the same intersection dating back to February of 2018. Two involved pedestrians. The others were minor vehicle crashes. 

Still, Martinez and others would like the county to install flashing lights or more speed limit signs; something to keep their children safe. 

As for Gabrielle, he could face additional surgeries. He will not go back to school for the remainder of his eighth-grade year. His injuries will require him to be homeschooled. 

Gabrielle's mom says his middle name, Angel, is proof that a guardian angel continues to watch over him.

"This time was my son, another time it could be someone else and I think we need to be careful for all of the kids in there," said Martinez. 

Lee Middle School's Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club is raising money for Gabrielle. They're doing a donut order and all profits will benefit Gabrielle's recovery. To donate, call 941-727-6500.