Levy school bus hits pole; no injuries

The bus was carrying mostly elementary school students.


Published: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 11:39 p.m.

A Levy County school bus carrying 19 students crashed into a utility pole, knocking down power lines near Chiefland Tuesday morning.

The students, ranging in age from 7 to 14, were examined by Levy County paramedics after the 7:45 a.m. crash, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. No injuries were reported.

Driver Hilda H. Butler, 53, was cited for careless driving, troopers said.

Butler, who has been a Levy County school bus driver for more than 25 years, has been placed on paid administrative leave, according to Levy County School Superintendent Cliff Norris. The action is considered standard protocol under School Board policy.

Norris also said an internal investigation into the accident is pending.

Butler was driving west on NW 105th Street, about a half-mile west of County Road 345, when she told troopers she looked away for a moment, FHP reported. When she looked back, the bus was approaching a set of curves in the road and had drifted left.

The driver started braking but didn't have time to avoid objects near the road, according to a report from troopers. The bus hit some small trees and shrubs, then a utility pole.

The pole broke and the top half hit the top of the bus. Power lines fell to the right of the bus. A guy wire to the pole also fell on the bus.

"But it appears that there was no transfer of electrical energy to the bus at any time during the incident," troopers said in a report about the crash.

The bus was driving a Chiefland area route and carrying mostly elementary school students, Norris said.

After they were checked by paramedics, the students were transferred to another bus and taken to school, troopers said.

Schools tried to contact all parents of children on the bus, Norris said.

Weather conditions were foggy at the time of the crash, troopers said. FHP Lt. Mike Burroughs said Butler was cited for careless driving because she did not adapt her speed or driving patterns to the adverse driving conditions.

Unusually warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and very light winds have created the dense fog, expected again today, said Phil Peterson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville. Increasing winds moving in ahead of Friday's cold front should disperse the fog later in the week.

Sun staff writer Karen Voyles contributed to this report.

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