EAST MANATEE -- Crisis teams were on the scene at Braden River Middle School this morning, hours after 21 students and their bus driver were injured in a school bus crash.
Principal Randy Petrilla was at school before the doors opened, along with school resource officers. Some parents were there early today, seeking reassurance that their children were safe, Petrilla said. Students and buses started arriving about 8:30 a.m.
The accident occurred at 4:15 p.m. Thursday on westbound State Road 64. Manatee County school bus No. 560, which was carrying 40 students to their homes from Braden River Middle, crashed into the rear of a Walmart tractor-trailer that was stopped for a red light at the intersection of S.R. 64 and 66th Street Court East, said Lt. Chris Miller of the Florida Highway Patrol.
The bus driver, Charles Robert Orr, 68, of Palmetto, was cited for careless driving after the accident, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The bus ended up a quarter of a mile down the road from the accident site, according to the FHP. The injured students were placed on stretchers on the grassy lawn between Walmart and State Road 64 and rushed by a seemingly endless stream of ambulances to nearby hospitals.
Anthony Losado, an assistant principal at Braden River, said they won't know how many of the injured students might stay home today.
Schools Superintendent Tim McGonegal has called a press conference for 1 p.m. today to provide an update on the school bus accident.
In addition to McGonegal, Don Ross, the school district s director of transportation will be present along with Petrilla.
The press conference will be held in the School Board Chambers at the District’s School Support Center, 215 Manatee Ave. W. Bradenton.