MYAKKA CITY, Fla. - A 14-year-old boy walking to his school bus in rural Manatee County was hit by an SUV this morning, possibly the result of distracted driving.
The Lakewood Ranch High School freshman was crossing Verna Bethany Road to get to the other side of the road where his bus was stopped – with lights flashing and safety devices deployed – when troopers say a 19-year-old driver going the other way failed to stop.
Kids have to cross Verna Bethany to get to the stop at Gopher Hill Road. Drivers are supposed to stop when the bus’s stop sign and lights are displayed, but troopers say Josee Martin was on her way to work, saw the bus, but didn’t stop. She hit the boy, who was thrown into the bus.
“They have strobe lights. It is a big yellow bus. It did engage all of its lights,” Trooper Ken Watson stated. “At this point in time, we feel it was distracted driving. How do you see the bus but you don’t see the lights?”
The boy was rushed to All Children’s Hospital. He’s expected to live, but will have some big recovery ahead of him. His family asked that his name not be released.
Area parents are concerned and upset. They don’t understand why their kids have to be put in harm’s way by crossing the busy two-lane road.
“The first thing we need to do is to make sure that our children are getting on the same side of the road of the bus, and if not, maybe it’s a 15-mile-per-hour area, but not a 55-mile-per-hour in the dark,” offered parent Lindsey McDaniel, who witnessed the crash.
The FHP says Martin received a mandatory court date for not stopping at the bus, and the investigation continues.