Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trial begins in Pasco school bus crash that injured teen

DADE CITY — Marcus Button was a typical 16-year-old on Sept. 22, 2006. A friend picked him up for school, and he realized on the way there he'd left his wallet at home.

The return trip changed Button's fate when the Dodge Neon he was riding in was struck by a public school bus at the intersection of State Road 54 and Meadow Pointe Boulevard in Wesley Chapel.

Button, who hit the windshield, suffered multiple head fractures, brain damage and vision loss. Today he requires constant care and ongoing medical treatment.

His parents, Mark and Robin Button, sued the Pasco County School District for negligence in 2007. The trial got under way Tuesday afternoon in front of Circuit Judge Susan Gardner.

J. Steele Olmstead, the Buttons' attorney, told jurors in his opening statement that the bus driver failed to follow the district's own rules, namely to use care when driving his bus route and to follow all traffic laws.

"The evidence will show that the bus pulled out in front of them," Olmstead said.

He said any award of monetary damages would go toward Button's ongoing medical care. He did not specify an amount but asked for something "lawful, adequate, reasonable."

Because the Buttons are suing a government agency, any amount they might win greater than $200,000 would require a claims bill approved by the state Legislature.

One issue in dispute is whether Button, now 19, was wearing a seat belt. Olmstead said the friend who picked him up remembers asking him to put it on. She thinks he did, Olmstead said, but isn't "100 percent sure."

But when paramedics and deputies arrived at the crash scene, the seat belt was missing.

Attorneys for the School Board plan to present an expert who will testify that Button's injuries would not have been so extensive had he been wearing a seat belt.

Also at issue is a traffic light installed after the accident at the intersection. The county, school district and Meadow Pointe III development agreed to have a light at the intersection, and it was the county's responsibility to install it.

Witnesses testified Tuesday that the agreement was signed in July 2005. The county didn't apply for a permit to install the light until the following May. The permit was approved in September — two days before the crash that injured Button — and the light was installed in October.

School district attorneys say the county should bear some liability for the crash because of the delay in installing the light.

The trial is expected to last into next week.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Trial begins in Pasco school bus crash that injured teen 07/14/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 9:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

    Blogs

     Winner of the week

    Peter Antonacci. Gov. Rick Scott tapped his go-to utility player to lead his Florida job recruiting agency, Enterprise Florida, having previously picked him for his general counsel, to lead the South Florida Water Management District and to serve as Palm Beach state …

  2. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 19: A peregrina spends the whole day under the weather, and part of the day under the table

    Travel

    Day 19: El Burgo Ranero to Puente Villarente: 25.4 km, 7.5 hours (Total for Days 1-19 = 454 km (282 miles)

    This list pretty much sums up my day:

    Eat two bananas

    Walk 13.1 kilometers

    Nap

    Walk 6.2 kilometers

    Nap

    Eat half an apple

    Walk 6.1 kilometers

    Crash< …

  3. Storm routs Cleveland

    Storm

    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  4. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.
  5. Rowdies shut out Charleston

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.