Thursday, January 26, 2006

15 yr old driving

Fla. Highway Crash Kills 7 Adopted Kids

LAKE BUTLER, Fla. (AP) - A car full of siblings headed home was crushed between a truck and a stopped school bus, killing the seven adopted children just two miles from where they lived.

Investigators were trying to understand why the driver of a truck hit the car from behind, pushing it in to the bus that was carrying nine students.

Everyone in the car was killed Wednesday, including the 15-year-old girl who was driving illegally. Tina Mann told CNN that her niece, who had a learner's permit, had dropped off another child and was taking her siblings home ``to get ready to go to church.''

``Even though she was an underage driver, it's my understanding she did not cause the accident,'' Mann told CNN. ``The same thing would have happened had there been an adult in the car with her. We'd just have one more death in the family.''

The victims in the car were identified by authorities as 15-year-old driver Nicki Mann; Elizabeth Mann, 15; Johnny Mann, 13; Heaven Mann, 3; Ashley Kenn, 13; Miranda Finn, who was either 8- or 9-years-old; and Anthony Lamb, who was almost 2 years old.

Five of the students onboard the bus were taken to University of Florida's Shands Hospital in Gainesville. Three were in serious condition and two were in fair condition, hospital officials said Wednesday night.

The other four were taken to area hospitals. It was believed that they were treated and released, said Lt. Mike Burroughs of the Florida Highway Patrol.

``It was horrible. People were screaming, children were wandering around, two were laying (in) the middle of the road,'' said Joy Clemins, who lives near the crash site. ``It is like they were walking around in a dream.''

The bus driver, Lillie Mae Perry, was transferred to a Gainesville hospital where she was in stable condition, hospital officials said.

Grief counselors were scheduled to be on hand Thursday to help students deal with the tragedy, said Union County School Superintendent Carlton Faulk. Lake Butler is about 60 miles southwest of Jacksonville in rural northern Florida.

``In a small county you get to know the kids,'' he said. ``A lot of the administrators and myself actually taught the parents of some of these kids. It's a very close knit community.''

Alvin Wilkerson, 31, the truck driver, suffered minor injuries. Burroughs said charges against Wilkerson were pending an investigation.

``We want to know why he didn't see a big, large school bus,'' Burroughs said.

He said authorities were looking into whether Wilkerson was possibly talking on his cell phone, if he was tired or if there was a mechanical failure of the truck.

Burroughs said a sample of Wilkerson's blood-alcohol level has also been collected.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.


Post a Comment

<< Home