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Car-bus crash kills one

Tampa firefighters and police work a fatal accident scene Wednesday, involving a Hillsborough County school bus at 
N Tampa Street at E Seventh Avenue. No bus riders were injured. One person in the car died; two were taken to a hospital.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Tampa firefighters and police work a fatal accident scene Wednesday, involving a Hillsborough County school bus at N Tampa Street at E Seventh Avenue. No bus riders were injured. One person in the car died; two were taken to a hospital.

TAMPA — A young woman died and two others were seriously injured after the car they were in collided with a loaded school bus Wednesday.

The accident happened at 3:46 p.m. north of downtown Tampa, not far from Stetson University College of Law.

None of the 29 students aboard the bus were hurt, officials said.

Two hours after the crash, Tampa Fire Rescue workers were still trying to extricate the deceased woman from what police said was the front passenger seat of a mangled cream-colored Nissan.

Names of all three victims were not immediately available, but Tampa police Lt. William Ferguson said they are believed to be teenagers from Pinellas County.

The two injured were a 19-year-old male who was driving and a young woman in the back seat, he said. They were both taken to Tampa General Hospital by ambulance.

Hillsborough County public school bus No. 3782 was headed south on N Tampa Street with a full load of children from 11 different magnet schools.

The Nissan came from the west, failed to yield to right of way at a stop sign at E Seventh Avenue, Tampa police Lt. Paul Lusczynski said. The car stopped at the sign, then accelerated into the path of the moving bus, he said.

The bus carried students from elementary, middle and high schools, school district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said. After the accident, they got off the bus and were evaluated while school officials contacted their parents.

White sheets draped across the Nissan concealed the dead body from public view as the children waited across the street, some being questioned by rescue workers.

Many hugged their parents as they arrived to pick them up.

The bus had just departed a transfer ramp near Hillsborough High School and was headed to Kate Jackson Community Center in Hyde Park, the first stop on the route, when the accident happened.

Bus driver Barbara Ghee was visibly shaken by the crash, Cobbe said. Ghee has been with the school system for seven years and has not had another accident in that time, Cobbe said.

Celina Garcia, 13, a passenger on the bus and student at Orange Grove Middle School, said all the kids were chatting as usual when Ghee suddenly started honking and braking.

"Her eyes were stuck on the street," Garcia said of the bus driver. Then the car and bus collided.

"I'm scared but I'm fine," Garcia said.

Kids used each other's cell phones to call their parents, and several, including Celina, were crying, she said. Then her mother, Anna Hanson, arrived to take her home.

The bus carried students from Dunbar Elementary, Lockhart Elementary, Lomax Elementary, Dowdell Middle, Orange Grove Middle, Stewart Middle, Williams Middle, Young Middle, D.W. Waters Center, Blake High and Tampa Bay Technical High.

Cobbe said counselors would be on the lookout at the various schools today to make sure students are coping in the aftermath of the crash.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3383.

Car-bus crash kills one 04/02/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 9, 2008 9:45am]
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