RIDGE MANOR (FOX 13) - Troopers say drivers and students were "lucky" to avoid serious injuries after a school bus collided with a semi-truck in Ridge Manor.
The collision occurred before 6:30 a.m. at the intersection of Cortez Boulevard and Interstate 75, when a truck driver from Ocala failed to stop at a red traffic light, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Troopers said the semi, which was hauling toilet paper, was traveling southbound on I-75 when it exited at Cortez Boulevard, also known as State Road 50.
Hernando County deputies said a school bus, carrying 18 students, was heading westbound on SR-50 to drop students off at Hernando High School, which is about 10 miles away from the crash scene.
The tractor-trailer partially entered the intersection and collided with the school bus, causing it to overturn. The rear axle of the bus ripped off.
Troopers said construction workers at the scene helped students evacuate the bus.
“Even now as I look at those images, it’s pretty sobering, but it is amazing that we have a driver and we have all students on board essentially walking away, very few injuries,” Karen Jordan, with Hernando County Schools said. “School buses are amazing, they are safe and, even in situations like this, to see everyone uninjured is wonderful.”
Six students had minor injuries and an additional school bus arrived to transport the remaining students to school. Both drivers were uninjured.
“I’m happy to report there were about 18 students on board. If there are any injuries, they’re very, very minor," said Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis in a Facebook video. He said parents were notified of the crash.
The view from SkyFOX shows the school bus laying side, with the sheared rear axle sitting in a dusty construction zone. There was some front-end damage to a semi-truck. Troopers said the semi-truck driver will be cited for violating a traffic signal.
“We are fortunate today that we don’t have any serious injuries," Trooper Brandon Hoaglan explained to FOX 13. "Anytime that you have two large vehicles involved in a crash there's always a chance that there are going to be some serious injuries. In this case, we are lucky everything is fine.”
The truck driver was cited for failure to obey a traffic signal.