SHADY HILLS — An 8-year-old boy who was peddling his bicycle to his school bus stop Wednesday morning was seriously injured in a collision with a car, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.
Family members told school officials that Donavin K. Smith has a fractured vertebra in his neck and that his brain is swollen. They said the second-grader was in surgery on Wednesday at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.
The accident happened about 7:35 a.m., when the boy headed south into the intersection of Deason Drive and Trent Lane. He drove into the path of a 1997 Ford sedan driven by Joseph Pendola, 27, who was going west.
The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash to determine who was at fault.
Students were not informed of the accident on Wednesday because school officials didn't have much information about his condition, said Mary Thomas-Oliver, school psychologist at Mary Giella Elementary School.
Thomas-Oliver said school officials have the option today of calling in a crisis team to talk to students and administrators at Shady Hills and Mary Giella, where the boy went to school for kindergarten, first grade and a small part of second grade before he transferred to Shady Hills this year.
"Some of the staff at Shady Hills aren't too familiar with him, but at Mary Giella, everybody knew him," Thomas-Oliver said.
That includes Kathy Kaburis, assistant principal at Mary Giella.
She said school staff were "shocked and concerned" when they learned of the accident.
"He is one of our babies," Kaburis said. "How can you not be concerned?"
Efforts to reach the boy's family were unsuccessful on Wednesday.
Tom Barker, principal at Shady Hills Elementary School, said he is ready to offer educational services at the boy's home during his recovery.
"He's a really cute little guy," Barker said. "My heart goes out to the family."
Thomas-Oliver said he is a "lovely, intelligent little boy."
Thomas-Oliver said she has been praying for his recovery, and recalling things about him that made him special.
"If he was standing in line to drink water or go to the bathroom, he would tell a child before him, 'You can go,' " Thomas-Oliver said. "I love how he always puts others before him."
Camille C. Spencer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.