Gadsden County School Bus Accident UPDATE

Update 10:27 P.M. by Heather Biance

A second Gadsden County employee has now been suspended from their duties in the aftermath of the deadly school bus accident.

Gadsden County's Director of Transportation Rocky Pace was put on administrative leave as of Tuesday afternoon.

School Board officials tell me Joe Lewis, who was the former Transportation Director has temporarily stepped in to fill his role while the investigation continues.

Superintendent Reginald James tells me all suspensions begin with pay and as the process continues it could eventually, but not definitely end in that person losing their job.

James says their internal investigation is looking at every policy they have in place to make sure that all parties involved have been complying 100% with district, state and federal regulations.

"It's progressing as you can see and as we go along we don't know what it will unveil, but we're certainly going to investigate everything," says Superintendent James.

Officials won't say if they believe there was any specific negligence done by Pace, but they say until the investigation is complete, he will remain suspended.

Now this second administrative leave comes less than a week after the bus driver, Tim Kelly, was suspended from his position.

The Gadsden County School Board will vote next Tuesday if they want to continue the suspension that has been put into place by Superintendent James.

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Update 5:18 p.m. 3-15

Updated 3/17/2010 3:40 p.m.

Eyewitness News has learned that Gadsden County Schools Transportation Director Rocky Pace was suspended as of Tuesday afternoon with pay until the investigation of the school bus crash is complete.

Officials want to make sure that while the investigation is underway they will be checking their policies and making sure that there was no negliance on any involved parties.

At this time they won't comment if any further actions on any other district employee will be taken at this time.

They will not comment on how long the suspension will be in placed but will last as long as the investigation is underway.
He was suspended by Gadsden County Superintendent Reginald James.

The school board will meet to approve the continuation of the suspension and will meet next Tuesday.

We will bring you more information as it becomes available.
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Two West Gadsden High School students are still at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital recovering from last week's fatal school bus crash.

Hospital officials tell us that Kayla Streeter is in good condition and Chamere Brown is in fair condition. Brown underwent surgery this morning.

Both are currently being treated in the hospital's pediatric unit.
Streeter is the step sister of Dee Dee Murray, the 17-year-old who died after being thrown through the bus's windshield.

No word yet on the driver's condition; he is also still at TMH.

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Update 11:00 p.m. 3-13

17-year-old Chamere Brown is still in critical but stable condition tonight.

Brown's mother told WCTV today that Brown sustained 3 broken bones in her back, a fractured bone in her neck, several injuries to her diaphragm, a broken pelvis and injuries to her liver.

She's had one surgery and is scheduled for another on Monday.

The bus driver, Timothy Kelly, and student, Kayla Streeter, are also still in the hospital. The funeral for Murray are tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. at West Gadsden High School.

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Update 10:00 a.m. 3-13

Family members say 17-year-old Kayla Streeter has been upgraded from serious to stable condition.

Family members also says Chamere Brown, De'sherrime Murray's best friend and Kayla's cousin is in critical but stable condition and remains in intensive care.

We still have not received updates on the bus driver's condition.

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Updated 5:30 pm 3-12

WCTV has learned that Kelly came in to the Gadsden County Clerk of Courts office after he got the ticket to petition Judge Gardner to keep the points from appearing on his record.

According to the Clerk of Court, the Judge agreed to Kelly's request based on his previous driving record.. and Kelly agreed to pay for the ticket.

We don't know what baring this would have on the school's requirement that he report any driving infractions... but we'll keep you posted.

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Updated 4:02 pm 3-12

WCTV has confirmed that Tim Kelly, the bus driver, has been suspended with pay.

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Updated 2:p.m 3-12

Gadsden County Schools will be holding a news conference at 3 p.m. Friday.

School officials say the bus driver should have self-reported that he got a speeding ticket last week and if he had, he would have been fired.

WCTV will have a news crew at the conference this afternoon and will provide more details as soon as they become available.
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Updated 12:47p.m 3-12

The bus driver was issued the traffic ticket for going 18 miles over the speed limit on Bonnie Hill Road.

We will continue to update this story on WCTV.TV and Eyewitness News as soon as it becomes available.
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Updated 11:50a.m 3-12

There are new developments in the investigation into a fatal school bus crash in Gadsden County.

WCTV has confirmed with the Gadsden County Clerk of Courts that bus driver Timothy Kelly was issued a traffic ticket on March 1st.
Kelly was in the school bus at the time, and was pulled over going 73 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone.

Contrary to what other media outlets have reported, the school says Kelly was legally allowed to drive the school bus.

As we reported earlier this week, the driver does have diabetes.
Questions have arisen whether he was an insulin dependent diabetic.
By state law, if you are insulin dependent, you cannot drive a school bus.

The school has maintained that Timothy Kelly filled out all of the necessary paperwork to legally drive the school bus.

17 year old De'Sherrime Murray died Tuesday from injuries suffered in Monday's crash.

Friends and family are preparing to say goodbye to Dee Dee at her viewing and funeral which will start at 1 PM on Sunday at West Gadsden High School.

Dee Dee's step sister Kayla is still in the hospital in serious condition recovering from two surgeries she underwent this week.
Kayla's cousin is also still in the hospital.
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Updated 10:33 pm 3-11

17-year-old Kayla Streeter, remains in serious condition after having her leg and elbow crushed in the accident.

The driver of the bus, Tim Kelly, is in serious but stable condition.

We'll keep you updated on their status as more information becomes available.

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Updated 6:28 pm 3-11

Press Release from Parks and Crump Law Firm:

The funeral for 17-year-old De’Sherrime (Dee Dee) Murray will be held on Sunday, March 14, 2010, in the West Gadsden High School gymnasium where she often played basketball for her school’s girls basketball team. The viewing begins at 1 o’clock in the afternoon and the funeral starts at 2 o’clock. The school’s address is 200 Providence Road in Quincy, Florida.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a fund set up in Dee Dee Murray’s name at any Regions Bank.

Dee Dee was fatally injured Monday afternoon when the school bus she was riding in crashed on County Road 269A in Chattahoochee, Florida. She was taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where she died Tuesday evening.

Dee Dee’s step-sister, 17-year-old Kayla Streeter, was also severely injured in the same bus crash. She remains in serious condition at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital following two surgeries. Kayla’s leg and elbow were crushed in the bus accident. She is also a basketball player for West Gadsden High School, and her family says doctors are trying to save both limbs.

A fund has also been set up in Kayla Streeter’s name at Regions Bank.

The family members of these two bright and talented young women extend a heartfelt thanks to the community for their prayers and condolences.
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Updated 12:18p.m 3-11

Florida Highway Patrol has reviewed the tape from the bus crash and say they won't get any information from it because the tape is blank.

They do not know why it was not recording.

We will bring you more information as soon as it becomes available.
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Updated 6:00p.m. 3-10

There's still no definitive word on what caused the bus crash or how fast the bus was going when it ran off the road. But there are a lot of students in Chattahoochee who are at home on the couch Wednesday, sharing their stories as they recover from sprains, bumps and bruises.

"Seeing the pictures of the bus it's just horrible. I'm happy that I made it out with just these injuries." Aquasha Colley said.

Colley was sitting about seven rows back when her school bus ran off the road and struck a tree Monday. She's nursing a bruised knee and ribs and says she aches for her classmates who were seriously hurt. Many of them, she says, were standing in the aisle when the bus crashed.

"There was a couple people standing up and those toward the front were standing up. De'sherrime, my friend who passed away, and the other girl who's in the ICU in the hospital, she was on the steps." Colley said.

There should on board surveillance video of the crash, but an Florida Highway Patrol spokesman says they haven't reviewed it yet.

Some of the students WCTV spoke with said there were people standing in the aisles, even on the front steps of the bus, when this crash happened.

Eyewitness News reporter Julie Montanaro interviewed Rocky Pace with the Gadsden County Schools Transportation
Julie asked, "Would you have any way of knowing if that's true?"
Pace said : "Not til we review the tape."

After the crash, Algeron Scott opened an emergency exit and helped his classmates off the bus. He says it was crowded that day and the otherwise bubbly bus driver wasn't himself.

"He's talking to everybody and all that and cracks jokes with students and all that, but that day he didn't say nothing at all all day." Scott said.

Bus driver Tim Kelly has been driving for Gadsden County Schools for almost 14 years. He is still hospitalized.

Law enforcement on scene speculated that he suffered some kind of medical emergency behind the wheel. But right now there's no confirmation of that.

Stay with Eyewitness News for continuing coverage of the Bus Tragedy. We'll have updates on the investigation and the conditions of those injured during our newscasts and on wctv.tv

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Updated 11:40a.m 3-10

An autopsy is being done on Murray Wednesday and the investigation into the crash is underway.

Stay tuned to Eyewitness News for continuing coverage of the Bus Tragedy. We'll have updates on the investigation during our newscasts and on WCTV.TV.
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Update 7:15pm 3-9

The Gadsden County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that 17 year old De'Sherrime Brenadia Murray has died at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital on 3/9/10 at 10:30 AM.

Murray was ejected from the bus through the windshield when it crashed Monday afternoon.

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Update at 7:00 pm written by Stephanie Salvatore

Grief counselors spent the better half of Tuesday morning talking with students at West Gadsden High School about Monday's bus accident.

At last count it was noted that 49 students were riding the bus at the time it crashed head on into a tree outside Chattahoochee.

Of the students who were airlifted to TMH one student was released Tuesday morning the other remains in extremely critical condition.

Even students who weren't riding the bus arrived to assist with the victims

"My first thought was to find out who needed help and where my sister was because my sister was on the bus as well and to try and help as many people as I can because there was emergency personnel but they weren't able to assist everybody," says Jerome Maples, a senior ROTC student.

This bus is identical to the bus that crashed yesterday but it wasn't until years ago that buses required seat belts.

School officials say school buses are the safest mode of transportation on the road.

"Industry standards will tell you school buses are the safest vehicles on the highway, they take an enormous amount of abuse and impact and are very strongly built and they maintain integrity through much more of a traumatic experience than other passenger cars on the road," says Rocky Pace, the director of transportation for Gadsden County schools.

"Buses are built for safety and when you see magnitude of the crash you'll understand. If you see the bus you'd think we lost plenty of students so there's something about buses and the way they're built that really absorbed a lot of the impact," says Superintendent Reginald James.

There was surveillance video on the bus but it is in the hands of Florida Highway Patrol, so at this point we don't know whether the student was standing or sitting at the time the bus went off the road.

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Updated 11:45a.m 3-9

Florida education officials have agreed to postpone the FCAT for students at West Gadsden High School.

The decision comes in wake up a school bus crash that injured the bus driver and several students Monday.

Grief counselors from the school district and Apalachee Mental Health are at West Gadsden High School talking with students who are still a little shook up from yesterday's crash.

The condition of the students and bus driver injured in the crash are not known at this time.

We will bring you more information as soon as it becomes available.
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Updated 8:45a.m 3-9

Grief counselors are on the campus of West Gadsden High school Tuesday morning after a school bus crashed Monday, seriously injuring two students and the bus driver.

The 48 students from West Gadsden High School were headed to their homes in Chattahochee.

Just after 3:00p.m on Monday, the school bus headed north on Highway 269-A, also known as Lincoln Drive, drove off the road and crashed into a tree.

One student was ejected from the bus through the windshield.
She was taken into emergency surgery Monday night in extremely critical condition.

Another teenage girl was in surgery with diaphragm injuries.

The driver was also rushed into surgery on Monday, but is expected to be okay.

Authorities say the reason for the crash is not yet known.

The driver of the school bus was 40 year old, Timothy Deboyce Kelly from Gretna, Florida.

We will have more information on WCTV.TV and Eyewitness News as soon as it becomes available.
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Update 10:20pm 3.8.2010

FHP Press Release:

A Gadsden County school bus was traveling northbound on County Road 269A. For unknown reasons the school bus traveled across the southbound lane and onto the west shoulder.

The front of the school bus struck a tree. The bus came to final rest on the west shoulder of County Road 269A, facing north.

There were approximately 50 students on the bus at the time of the crash. Several students were transported to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital for their injuries.

The Gadsden County Sheriff's Office, Department of Corrections, Havana P.D., Gadsden County EMS, Liberty County EMS, Leon County EMS, Gadsden County Fire Departments, Florida State Hospital, Gadsden County School Board and many others assisted on scene.

The driver of the school bus was 40 year old, Timothy Deboyce Kelly from Gretna, Florida.
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Update 8:47pm 3.8.2010

FHP has confirmed that one of the female passengers injured in the school bus crash is headed to surgery and is in critical condition.

Another teenage girl is also in surgery for diaphragm injuries.

The driver of the bus is in surgery at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital but is expected to be okay.
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Update 8:17pm 3.8.2010

Just after 3:00p.m Monday, a school bus headed north on Highway 269-A also known as Lincoln Drive was carrying 48 students when it drove off the road and crashed into a tree.

One student was ejected from the bus through the windshield. The student and driver were airlifted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.

19 of the 48 students remained in the hospital. Two of the students remain in critical condition.

FHP says the bus driver was in serious condition.

The remaining students were checked at the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee which set up a triage unit to assist the injured students.
Those kids have been checked out and released to their family.
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Update 6:20 p.m. 3.8.2010

Officials say the student who was life-flighted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital may have been ejected from the bus during the accident.

We will have more details as they become available.
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Update 5:15p.m.

Chattahoochee Police Chief Vann Pullen says the driver of the school bus carrying about 40-50 kids from West Gadsden High School went off the road and hit a tree.

Pullen says the cause of the accident is possibly medical related.

One student and the bus driver were life flighted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.

About a dozen more were taken by ambulances with other injuries.

Twenty-five students were taken to Florida State Mental Hospital in Chattahoochee with less serious injuries.

There are no fatalities reported.

The road is closed about 2 miles south of the accident on Lincoln.

We will have more information as it becomes available.

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4:30p.m. 3.8.2010

Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a school bus crash outside of Chattahoochee at 1075 Lincoln Drive.

We do not know at this time if there were any fatalities or how many children were on the bus at the time.

Chattahoochee Police Chief Vann Pullen says FHP is currently working the case and checking to see if any children have significant injuries and need medical attention.

We will let you know more details as soon as they are made available.


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