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Pasco school bus, car collide at intersection in Shady Hills

SHADY HILLS — He was sitting in the shade taking a break from yard work when he heard the crash. It was a thundering boom. Dragan Romanovic looked toward the noise and saw a flash of yellow; a school bus skidding through the intersection of Bosley and Monteverde drives just before 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The bus screeched off the road and flipped on its side. A 2001 Buick LeSabre sat crumpled in Romanovic's neighbor's front yard.

He heard a baby crying.

Romanovic called 911 as he ran. He didn't know what he was going to find.

He got to the car driver first: Julie Ann Black, 51, who had been headed east toward her house on Bosley. She was trapped inside her car, covered in blood.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

"Not really," she mumbled.

There wasn't anything he could do for her, he said, so he ran to the bus, which was coming from Marchman Technical Education Center in New Port Richey. There were two people and an infant on board, according to authorities: Bus driver Ray Lucas, 68, of New Port Richey; student Jalina England, 17, of Hudson, and her infant Malina England, born June 6.

Lucas, England and the baby suffered minor injuries, said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol. They were transported to Spring Hill Regional Hospital. He said it appears Lucas and England wore their seat belts and the baby was properly secured in a car seat.

Black, who also wore a seat belt, was flown to Bayfront Medical Center in serious condition, Gaskins said.

"She looked like she was pretty hurt," Romanovic said.

Lucas, who was headed south on Monteverde, was charged with failure to yield at a stop sign, Gaskins said. There is no stop sign for drivers on Bosley, but drivers on Monteverde must stop before crossing Bosley.

Vehicles blow through those stop signs "constantly," said Ty Poole, an 11th-grader at Marchman who lives near the crash site. He was not on the bus. He said he's nearly been hit several times by drivers.

"It's ridiculous," said Poole, 16.

School officials say the bus was at the end of its daily route and Lucas has been with the department for more than a decade.

Tuesday marked only the second day of school since the summer break ended.

Pasco School Superintendent Heather Fiorentino came to the scene of the accident. She said the student is enrolled in Cyesis, a voluntary program at Marchman for students with children.

It's "sad any day we have a bus accident," she said.

The bus was made in 2007. Fiorentino said the bus did what it is supposed to do in a crash — the interior remained intact.

"The bus did its job," she said.

Gaskins said the crash remains under investigation. No charges have been filed.

After crews arrived, Romanovic went back to his yard, watching, his adrenaline flowing. He felt like he was in shock.

"That was scary," he said.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.

Pasco school bus, car collide at intersection in Shady Hills 08/23/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 9:53pm]
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