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Student dies after jumping from moving bus

ST. PETERSBURG — Joshua Sage, the St. Petersburg High School student who threw himself from a moving school bus last week, died of his injuries early Monday.

Sage was 18. This was his senior year.

"The family is in our thoughts and prayers," said principal Al Bennett.

Bennett said more than 40 students were on the bus Wednesday when Sage jumped. Grief counselors will be at the school today, he said.

On the afternoon he was injured, Sage and other students were acting rowdy during the ride home on northbound 34th Street N, police said. Sage had thrown a water bottle through a window at another student, police reported.

The bus driver, Kurt Kane, told his superiors he was turning the bus around and taking the disruptive students back to the school.

The bus turned east onto Ninth Avenue N near 28th Street. Sage then moved to the rear seat and told other students he was getting off, police said.

Sage unlocked the bus' rear emergency door, police said, and opened it as the bus accelerated.

The driver told police he hit the brakes as soon as he heard the alarm triggered by the open rear door.

But police said it was too late: Sage jumped out of the back of the bus while it was going about 20 mph.

Sage was found unconscious on the pavement. He briefly regained consciousness as paramedics treated him, police said.

He was taken to Bayfront Medical Center and was listed in critical condition.

The student suffered a fractured skull, police said. Doctors placed him in a medically induced coma to reduce the swelling in his brain, police said.

But Sage was pronounced dead at 1:46 a.m. Monday.

Police still are investigating the incident but already have cleared the bus driver.

"The bus driver did nothing wrong," said the investigator, St. Petersburg police Officer Mike Jockers. "It was just an 18-year-old who made a very poor choice."

The principal said Kane, the 58-year-old bus driver, was distraught after the incident.

"He did everything he was supposed to do," Bennett said. "It's not out of the ordinary for a driver to bring a bus back to school."

Sage's family declined to comment Monday.

Bennett said Sage was very energetic and funny.

"It always seemed like he was in positive spirits," he said.

Bennett said that after Sage jumped off the bus last week, he spoke to the 40 to 45 students onboard.

When the bus picks up those same students this morning, their principal will be onboard to speak to them again.

"You never know how the kids are going to react," he said.

Times staff writer Luis Perez and researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

Student dies after jumping from moving bus 01/19/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 19, 2009 11:32pm]
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