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Walt Disney World bus kills 9-year-old St. Petersburg boy riding his bike

LAKE BUENA VISTA — A 9-year-old St. Petersburg boy was killed by a Walt Disney World bus while riding his bike with a friend on the theme park's property Thursday, authorities said.

The boy hit the bus near the Fort Wilderness area, which offers camping and an outdoor experience at Disney World, Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes said. The boy was riding with an 11-year-old girl, who was not hurt. Both were wearing helmets.

The children and the bus were headed in the same direction. There was a sidewalk but no curb, and the boy appeared to cross into the road and hit the middle of the bus, Montes said. He was pulled under the right rear tire.

His name was not released Thursday.

Montes said there was no evidence the bus driver was impaired or driving recklessly, and she did not expect criminal charges, though a more thorough investigation was still pending.

None of the 28 people on the bus was hurt.

The driver, David Rich, 56, has worked for 30 years for Disney.

The incident comes during one of the busiest travel times at the area's theme parks, with many schools across the country out for spring break and Easter weekend approaching. Disney expressed condolences but did not provide additional details.

"We wish to extend our deepest sympathy to the boy's family and loved ones for their loss," Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger said in a statement. "We are currently providing the necessary resources and care to help the family with this situation."

Thursday's crash was the latest in a string of transportation incidents at Disney in recent months.

A Walt Disney World bus rear-ended a charter bus near the entrance to the Epcot park March 23. The bus driver, who was later cited for careless driving, and seven passengers were injured in the crash. FHP troopers noted that the tour bus was improperly stopped in the road, which contributed to the collision.

Two buses also collided at Walt Disney World in July. A dozen people suffered minor injuries in the incident and were taken to hospitals for treatment.

That crash occurred just days after 21-year-old monorail operator Austin Wuennenberg was killed when two of the trains crashed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Walt Disney World $35,200 for workplace violations in that incident.

Times staff writer Kameel Stanley contributed to this report.

Walt Disney World bus kills 9-year-old St. Petersburg boy riding his bike 04/02/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 2, 2010 8:44am]

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