LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — A Polk County school bus driver involved in a crash Tuesday morning has resigned. 8 On Your Side revealed that the bus driver, Frederick McClellan, has a previous history of crashes during his time with the district.
Three students and a fourth person were taken to the hospital after the crash, which occurred around 6:25 a.m. Tuesday. 8 On Your Side learned more were taken throughout the day, including Randy Nobel.
“I had pains in my lower back and they were getting worse throughout the day yesterday,” he said. The doctor gave him pain medicine and requested a follow-up appointment.
“When we took him to the hospital we found out more information and the nurses at the hospital said, ‘Hey, had kids come in all day,'” parent James Nobel said.
Randy described the moments of the crash as terrifying. “It was scary. We all went flying. Our backpacks went flying and everything,” he said.
The Polk County School District released this statement:
“Mr. McClellan no longer has driving duties for Polk County Public Schools. He has resigned from his position as bus driver effective today. Following yesterday’s accident, he was placed on administrative leave so an internal review could take place. An accident review committee has determined that he should no longer be a bus driver for Polk County Public Schools. Mr. McClellan can apply and be considered for reassignment to another position within the school district. However, the position will not involve driving Polk County Public Schools vehicles.”
Troopers say the crash happened around 6:25 a.m. at Swindell Road and Galloway Road. McClellan stopped at the stop sign, but then proceeded through the intersection and into the path of a pickup truck, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The truck hit the left side of the school bus.
McClellan was cited for violation of right-of-way. The other driver had a suspended license and also received a citation.
Kay Fields, Polk County School Board chair, said the crash will not be overlooked.
“I would be concerned, as well, but I want (parents) to be assured that we take their children’s safety seriously. We are going to make sure that our drivers are prepared and equipped to drive safely,” Fields said.
According to his records, this was McClellan’s third crash since he started with the district in February 2016. The first happened on April 8, 2016 and the second on April 19, 2016. An accident review board determined McClellan made “improper turns.”
They forced him to take a defensive driving course and retrain before he could return behind the wheel. The two crashes in April garnered McClellan six points under the district’s safe driver plan.
8 On Your Side also learned McClellan has a CDL with passenger and school bus endorsement. He also had 38.5 hours of road training. Eighteen hours are required.
Parents should contact the Polk County School District’s Risk Management Department at (863) 519-3858 if they have medical claims.