CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Just one second of inattention may be to blame for a serious crash involving a Pinellas County school bus. Clearwater police said the Tuesday afternoon accident may have started with a man running a red light.
That vehicle slammed into the bus, sending it into a pole. One student was on the bus. The 15-year-old Palm Harbor University High student is shaken up, but is otherwise OK, officials said.
Firefighter-Paramedic Jason Haynor and his crew from Clearwater Fire Station 48 rushed to Drew Street and Fort Harrison Avenue. They found the bus with its front end wrapped around the concrete pole and a car with severe damage on both the front and back.
“This was still something that kind of perks you up a little bit, and you don’t definitely see a pole on top of school bus like that very often,” Haynor said.
Crews were initially unable to free the bus’ driver, 54-year-old Joseph Morgan. Rescue crews opened the rear emergency door and removed seats, while others started an IV through the bus window.
First responders were able to extricate Morgan after 30 to 45 minutes.
“You don’t get those calls all the time where you’re able to make a significant impact on somebody’s life like that, so it was definitely rewarding to be able to help him in that way,” Haynor said.
Retired firefighter Jon Weaver saw it all unfold from two cars behind the bus. “All of the sudden, you see this car come out of nowhere, hit the bus, swerved the bus into the poll. You see a big cloud of dust,” Weaver said.
Clearwater traffic crews snipped wires to release the signal lights left dangling a few feet above the road. They brought in a front-end loader to stabilize the pole.
The investigation is not complete, but Clearwater police think Edward Burke, 58, of Palm Harbor, ran the red light going west, hitting the southbound bus. Burke suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital.
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