Bystanders Pull Students from Burning Bus in Fla. - @

Bystanders Pull Students from Burning Bus in Fla.


| Tuesday, September 23, 2008

CITRA, Fla. -- Passers-by are being credited with pulling students from a school bus that caught fire after it was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer in north Florida, killing one teenager, a school official said.

"This was a tragedy, but it's also a miracle," Marion County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yancey told the Ocala Star-Banner. "We're lucky one person got out of there alive."

About 20 middle and high school students were on the bus when it was rear-ended Tuesday afternoon. Two were critically injured and several others had injuries not considered life-threatening.

The student who died was identified as Frances M. Schee, 13.

"The kid was lodged and I just couldn't get her out," Chris Mann, an elevator installer who stopped to help when he saw the accident, told the Star-Banner. "There was nothing I could do."

Yancey said at least four bystanders helped the students.

"I'd say they probably got half the kids off the bus themselves," Yancey said. "They were showing more grief and remorse from not being able to do more."

Police said charges are pending against the driver of the tractor-trailer, Reinaldo Gonzalez, 30, of Orlando. He was taken to a hospital with head injuries.

Earlier this month, a chain-reaction crash southeast of Tallahassee involving a school bus, minivan and cement mixer truck killed an 8-year-old girl and injured seven other children and the van driver.

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