Audrey Howe, the driver of the school bus that crashed into a Waste Management garbage truck Friday, Sept. 20, has been charged with careless driving, according to a Sarasota Police Department press release.
Two children who were on the bus during the crash told authorities that Howe was possibly texting on a cell phone prior to the crash. Howe told officers she uses the phone as a clock and was merely checking the time, but had not done so in the time before the accident according to the crash report.
Earlier: A school bus collided with a garbage truck at about 3:40 p.m. near the intersection of Ringling Boulevard and Tuttle Avenue, and children aboard the bus said the driver was on a phone at or near the time of the crash.
A press release from the Sarasota Police Department stated the investigation is pending, but several students reported seeing the driver use a cell phone around the time of the crash, possibly texting. A crash report will not be available until Monday.
Of the 25 children on the bus, nine reported minor injuries such as bumps or bruises, according to Sarasota Assistant Fire Chief Mike Regnier.
Injured children were kept on the site for treatment before being released into the care of their parents, the school board or law enforcement. Another bus transported the other students away from the scene. The bus was en route from Gulf Gate Elementary to the Boys and Girls Club at 3100 Fruitville Road before the crash.
Emergency personnel transported the driver of the garbage truck, who had more serious injuries, to the hospital.
The release states the garbage truck was stopped in traffic at Ringling and Tuttle on a green light before the school bus ran into the back of the truck.
Ellery Girard, director of transportation for Sarasota County Schools, spoke with the driver about the crash. According to the driver, the bus was stopped behind the garbage truck at a red light. When the light turned green, the garbage truck started moving but suddenly came to a stop. The bus driver was not able to stop in time, Girard said.