TAMPA — A pickup truck slammed into the rear of a HART bus at Gunn Highway and Henderson Road in Odessa on Wednesday night, critically injuring two truck passengers and sending at least three bus riders to the hospital.
Sheba Boucher, 36, a trauma nurse from Tampa General Hospital, was on her way to get a Popsicle for her feverish 4-year-old daughter when she saw a white Ford F-150 carrying a load of discarded tree limbs collide with the bus.
She said she ran over, trying to stop traffic, and offered aid.
The truck driver, although injured, was still able to speak, so she talked to him to comfort him while awaiting the arrival of emergency personnel.
"What do I need to do?" she asked the man, whose name she would later learn was Rafael Camargo, 20. "He said, 'You need to talk to me.' "
Boucher worried about another person in the collapsed truck. She ran to the passenger side door to try and get to him, but it wouldn't budge.
She called on James Goodwin, 24, a bystander who had gotten out of his truck after seeing the crash from a few cars back. At Boucher's behest, Goodwin pulled and pulled on the passenger door, but still couldn't get it pried open.
So she ran back around to the other side, and reached through and felt for a pulse. The passenger was alive, she said.
When paramedics arrived, they took Camargo and his two passengers, John Camacho, 16, and Alex Richards, 16, to St. Joseph's Hospital, Hillsborough sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.
Both Camacho and Richards were in critical condition two hours later. The driver's injuries, Carter said, were not life threatening.
Of five passengers and a bus driver aboard the HART bus, three were treated at area hospitals with minor injuries. Daniel Tatum, 41, and Marie Bros, 25, were taken to Town & Country Hospital. John Sederspill, 62, went to another, Carter said.
Jennifer Ruiz, 23, had just stepped off the bus at the time of the crash.
"He just didn't stop," she said of the truck.
She watched as Boucher and Goodwin tried to assist the injured and called 911 from her cell phone.
After the injured were transported, HART master mechanic Ismael Rivera squatted and leaned over what used to be the back bumper of the bus to inspect.
The engine was crushed, he said. "This is not drivable."
As law enforcement worked to decipher and clear the scene, Boucher's head was still spinning from the incident. In the hospital, you can call out and get all the medical assistance you need. Here, she said, she felt a little more helpless.
Boucher put her arm around Ruiz and offered the once-stranger a ride home before completing the errand she'd originally set out on.
"I got to get a Popsicle," she said.