CITRA — At least one student died and eight people were injured Tuesday after a semitrailer truck rear-ended a school bus on U.S. 301 about 15 miles north of Ocala in Marion County, authorities said.
Marion County schools superintendent Jim Yancey told the Ocala Star-Banner that at least four bystanders entered the burning bus, rescuing the children from the flames.
"I'd say they probably got half the kids off the bus themselves," Yancey said. "They were showing more grief and remorse from not being able to do more."
Lauren Scott, who was at her mother's farm nearby, said she and several visitors heard what she first thought were gunshots, only they were too powerful.
"We were looking at each other like 'What the heck was that?' " she told the newspaper. "We walked over behind the house and saw this smoke, very black smoke."
About 20 people were aboard the bus, and authorities believe all the students have been accounted for, Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Pat Riordan said. The name and age of the dead student have not been released.
Six students and both drivers were taken to hospitals with injuries that weren't life-threatening, Marion County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Heather Danenhower said. The bus was taking students from North Marion Middle School and North Marion High School.