Boy injured in Jackson Co. bus crash learning to walk again

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By: Spencer Allen
May 26, 2016

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) -- Like most 8-year-olds, Chevy Burdette loves video games. Playing Blur and NBA2K with friends take up a typical afternoon. However, Chevy is anything but a typical 8-year-old.

"Not everybody goes through the kind of stuff he went through," his best friend Cain told us.

On March 16, 2016 Chevy’s life changed forever. On his way to school, a semi-truck slammed right into his school bus.

72 students were hurt from the impact, but many were fortunate enough to walk away. But Chevy Burdette was trapped.

Chevy’s uncle and guardian, Scott Harrell, got to the scene and remembers how Chevy looked.

"The floor of the bus literally just crumpled around his left foot, which was sideways. If you took your finger and laid it on a Coke can and crushed it around your finger, that's what his left leg looked like. The metal just crushed around his foot," Scott said.

Scott says it took nearly 2 hours to get Chevy out of the bus.

"Was it scary?" I asked Chevy.

“Yeah,” he said. “Just knowing that I couldn’t move and something had happened."

Scott tells us how emotional it was for the two hours trying to free Chevy from the bus.

"He put his arms around me and said, 'Uncle Scott, I love you,' and I said I love you too, and he goes, 'No I love you. If anything happens to me tell everybody else I love them.' and everybody stopped and had a tear in their eye."

Chevy was badly hurt. He broke 35 bones, including his eye socket, his pelvis, and both legs. He ruptured his spleen. Both his feet and ankles were crushed and all 10 toes were broken.

"I couldn't get up and walk, so I knew something happened," Chevy says.

The doctors amputated four of his toes and they felt it would take some time before Chevy walked again.

But Chevy would defy his grim prognosis thanks to physical therapy.

55 days after the crash, Chevy would take his first steps since that early March morning.

Denise Harrell, Chevy’s aunt and guardian, says his progress is unbelievable.

"A 10 day hospital stay with 35 fractures and now we're already walking? I mean, it's incredible. The positive is, he's got so much growing to do that one day this will all be just a distant memory."

Now Chevy is pushing towards new goals.

“By Christmas I want to be able to walk by myself not by support of a walker," he says.

Denise says, “God's going to bring us through all of it. He puts his toughest battles on his strongest soldiers.”

And Chevy is a true soldier, trapped inside a 8-year-old's body.

By: Lanetra Bennett
March 17, 2015

MARIANNA, Fla. -- Tallahassee Attorney Benjamin Crump wants to know what caused the driver of a tractor trailer to crash into two school buses Wednesday in Jackson County.

"When we heard that horrifying noise on that bus, we didn't know what to do," said 13-year-old student, Semira Holmes.

Holmes was on one of the buses that crashed on her way to school in Jackson County Wednesday morning. She said, "We were scared. It just came out of nowhere. People were injured. People were hanging out of the bus. It was a scary sight to see. We just all thought we were going to die."

Authorities say a tractor trailer hit the back of a stopped school bus, which then hit another bus.

Avia Williams' 11-year-old twin daughters and 13-year-old son were on that bus, crushed in the middle.

Williams said, "Me being a mother, I got down there and looking at that bus, and looking at those children, I just wanted to drop to the ground. But I couldn't because my babies were watching me. I don't wish that phone call on no one."

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office says, in all, 72 people were taken to the hospital with injuries. 6 of those people were taken to Tallahassee Memorial.

Tallahassee Attorney Ben Crump is representing 14 of the families.

He says injuries include broken legs, a skull injury, and an eye socket fracture, among others. Williams says her son's neck is swollen and he's suffering from a headache.

"We couldn't escape from the bus. It was terrifying," Holmes said.

Williams described the scene when she arrived. "The truck was shattered. The windshield of the bus, I honestly didn't think the bus driver made it because it was just demolished."

The driver of the bus that was struck first suffered minor injuries. The driver of the tractor trailer was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

Attorney Crump said, "Flashing lights, stop sign, it's daylight. Why wouldn't you see these buses stopped there letting children onto the bus? We don't know what happened. But we intend to find out."

Attorney Crump says they will seek legal civil against the trucking company and the driver of the truck, 64-year-old Curtis Benefield.
He says it's about providing long term care and solutions for the families.

Charges are pending. As of Thursday afternoon, Jackson County officials said the six people who were taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital are still in stable condition.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
March 17, 2015

GRAND RIDGE, Fla. -- Local Attorney Benjamin Crump announced that he will represent more than a dozen families involved in yesterday's crash in Jackson County that left more than 70 injured.

Crump held a press conference at the LaDray Gilbert Law Office Thursday morning.

Standing with three parents and one of the victims from the crash, Crump said that at least 14 families will be represented by him or Gilbert.

Crump said some of the victims of the crash were "suffering from horrific injuries, such as broken legs, arms, skull injuries or missing teeth," and that the families will seek legal action.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a tractor trailer slammed into a bus, which then hit another bus around 8 a.m. Wednesday near the corner of Highway 90 and Sage Brush Avenue in Grand Ridge.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
March 16, 2016

GRAND RIDGE, Fla. -- 72 people are injured following an accident involving two school buses and a tractor trailer in Jackson County.

Florida Highway Patrol responded to the scene around 8:00 a.m. Eastern time.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a tractor trailer hit the back of a stopped school bus, which then hit another school bus on US 90 near Sage Brush Avenue in Grand Ridge.

The driver of the tractor trailer, 64-year-old Curtis Benefield of Cottondale, was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. The driver of the school bus that was initially rear-ended was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

According to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, 72 people were taken to area hospitals with injuries. Three people were airlifted from the scene. Six of the injured were taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and are currently listed in stable condition.

Students from Grand Ridge School and Sneads High School were among those injured, including multiple members of the Sneads High football team, according to WJHG.

Grand Ridge is about five miles west of Sneads.

According to FHP, US 90 was closed between Highway 69 and Highway 71.

The Jackson County Superintendent of Schools released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

"There was a serious accident on Highway 90 in Grand Ridge involving two Jackson County School buses and a semi-truck. While there are some significant injuries to some students and one of the drivers, none appear to be life-threatening. Superintendent Benton would like to thank the administrators, teachers and staff who were on the scene to help with logistics and comforting students and parents. We are grateful for the quick response of the Jackson County EMS , the Sheriff's Department, the Florida Highway Patrol and other law enforcement who were on the scene, as well as several off duty nurses and first responders who stopped to assist. During this time of crisis this community came together!"

Charges are pending the outcome of the investigation.

Tallahassee attorney Benjamin Crump says he's representing several students involved in the accident and will provide an update on their conditions at a Thursday morning press conference.

WCTV will update this story as more information becomes available.

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