Video shows February school bus crash in Manatee (with video)

BRADENTON — The Manatee County school board this week honored a school bus driver for his care in handling a crash last month that took place on his morning route to school.

Lee Randy Wilson Jr., 54, was recognized by the district after transportation officials at Monday's school board meeting played a video taken from the bus during the Feb. 16 crash on State Road 64.

It showed bus No. 597 being struck from behind by a Ryder rental box truck while picking up a 12-year-old Haile Middle School student at a stop near Lorraine Road.

“Mr. Wilson has over 15 years of experience, and he showed it in his calm professional demeanor that day,” said Terry Palmer, the district’s director of transportation. “He’s a wonderful representative of the core of school bus drivers we have.”

During impact, the bus tape shows more than a half-dozen students violently bouncing around while school supplies fly throughout the bus’s interior.

John E. Morgan of Groveland, 51, who was driving the truck carrying produce, swerved but could not avoid the bus, according to Florida Highway Patrol. He was cited with traffic violations.

“He ran into the back of our bus at 45 mph and never hit the brakes,” said Don Ross, associate director of vehicle maintenance.

The impact knocked the bus about 47 feet forward, and the student being picked up was pulled under the bus, board members said. She sustained minor injuries. Palmer said Wilson jumped off the bus to check and see if the student was OK, got back on the bus to check on the other children, then notified the transportation department.

“Not only Randy’s response was beautiful, but we were blessed that young lady was not seriously injured,” said Walter Miller, a board