HIGHLANDS COUNTY, Fla. — At least 22 people were taken to the hospital after a crash involving a school bus and a tractor-trailer Wednesday morning in Highlands County, Florida.
The school bus was carrying 39 students when it was traveling north on US 27 in the right lane, approaching Lake Ridge Drive around 7:42 a.m. Wednesday morning. At the same time, a tractor-trailer was traveling north on US 27 in the right lane, some distance behind the bus.
The bus came to a stop at Lake Ridge Drive to allow students to load the bus. Florida Highway Patrol reports that the bus had its flashing lights on, warning other drivers that it was stopped, at the time of the crash. The driver of the tractor-trailer, Stanley Lockwood, 45, of Orlando, failed to stop in time and struck the rear end of the bus, according to FHP. The school bus was pushed onto the east shoulder of US 27 and overturned onto its left side.
FHP reports that two students were airlifted to Tampa General Hospital with serious injuries. Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Lake Placid says they treated 20 patients from the crash, including the school bus driver. 11 of which have been released at this time. All the injuries at Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Lake Placid are reportedly non-life threatening.
A staging area for parents has been set up at the Winn Dixie parking lot on CR 29. “Please do not come to the accident scene,” HCSO posted on Facebook. “Stay in the staging area with your child until cleared to leave by a deputy.”
Lockwood has been charged with careless driving.