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December 19, 2012

Update: FHP releases report on bus accident

Live Oak — Suwannee High School student Brandon J. Cunningham, 18, Live Oak, was seriously injured and 48 students ranging in age from pre-school to high school were sent to a local hospital when Cunningham struck the rear of a Suwannee County school bus early Wednesday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. 


According to FHP, Cunningham was traveling eastbound on US 90 around 7:35 a.m. in a 2002 Chevrolet SUV when he struck the back of the 2000 Blue Bird bus that was stopped on eastbound US 90 at 74th Street. FHP said the bus was stopped with its warning lights engaged due to children boarding the bus. All the children were seated as the SUV hit the rear.


The Jaws of Life was used to help get Cunningham, who was wearing a seatbelt, out of the vehicle. He was air lifted to Shands Gainesville for injuries to his lower extremities. 


All the students on the bus, 48 of them, were sent to Shands Live Oak Regional Medical Center as a precaution. The children attend various schools and range in age from pre-school to high school students. Shands Live Oak CEO Richard Huth said that about four of the students had minor cuts and bruises, but were otherwise OK.


The driver of Route 36’s bus #29, Monica G. Pitts, 33, Live Oak, received minor injuries, FHP reported.

Numerous parents and others filled Shands Live Oak when they received the news of the accident involving their loved ones. 


SHS principal Ted Roush was quickly on scene as well as School Board chairperson Jerry Taylor. 


One little girl told the Democrat her experience.

“I was reading a book and then I heard a crash,” said eight-year-old Katelyn Pettrey. “I was scared and I wanted my mom.”


Huth said the hospital had an emergency drill in November to prepare for such an event so when the call came in about the amount of children involved, Huth said the hospital staff called a code green and jumped into action. He said there were three doctors on site ready to help. 


The names of the 48 students won't be released until at least tomorrow, said FHP, who are still investigating.

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