Lake Placid, FL School Bus and Truck Wreck, Feb 1976



Lake Placid, Fla. (UPI) - A tractor-truck slammed into a loaded school bus in dense fog Monday morning, killing the bus driver and three students and injuring more than 50 other elementary school children.
The impact sheared off the front of the bus, leaving the driver pinned in the wreckage.
The bus driver was identified as CHARLES IRWIN of rural Lake Placid.
The dead students were identified as MARK HOLMES, 6, ROBERT REYNOLDS, 7, and AVERY COX, 10. All were from rural Lake Placid.
The COX youth died en route to a Winter Haven Hospital, some 70 miles to the north of here. Three other children were taken to Winter Haven where they reported in critical condition.
The other injured were taken to Highlands General Hospital in Sebring, 16 miles north of here, and to Walker Memorial Hospital in Avon Park, 31 miles to the north.
AVERY COX was one of six COX children aboard the bus. His sister TINA is in critical condition at Winter Haven. Sisters WANDA and CHARLOTTE were at Walker Memorial, while brother TOMMY and sister CYNTHIA were at Highlands General.
"They brought them in station wagons and everything that had wheels, I think," said Highlands General Hospital administrator Vernon Bielefeld.
School superintendent Ferrel Smith advised school principals to continue classes on schedule, despite the tragedy.
"All these are elementary school children and many of their parents work," Smith said. "It would create havoc in many instances to send them home, since many of their parents work and have no emergency plan."
"I saw doctors and nurses leaning up against the wall crying," said Sebring News photographer Leland Sellers, who went to Highlands General Hospital at Sebring. "The nurses were having to pull themselves together, it was so bad."
Sellers said hospital corridors were jammed with parents looking for their children and attempting to identify the dead.
Highlands County school superintendent Ferrel Smith said the accident occurred when the bus was struck near its front as it was making a left turn only a block from a high school where some of the students would have gotten off.
The impact sheared off the front of the bus, turned that portion over and under the bus. The driver was pinned in the wreckage. The truck suffered only minor damage.
The truck driver, identified only as a "MR. STAPLE," apparently escaped serious injury but was taken to the hospital in shock.
The truck belonged to Adams Produce Co., of Forest City, Ga. A spokesman for the firm said neither the name of the driver nor any details would be released until "we get a full report."
The accident occurred at 7:40 a.m.
Citizens' band radio users put out the word that blood was needed at the hospitals and local residents began flooding in to donate blood.

Pottstown Mercury Pennsylvania 1976-02-17


I was on the bus that day and

I was on the bus that day and sustained many injuries. Injuries that have caused me issues to this day. My sister was also on the bus but was fortunate that she fell out when the bus split so no severe injuries.

My sister and I were both on the bus

I lived next to the bus driver and was the first one on every morning. I sat right behind Mr Irwin and the morning of the crash, my sister who is older made me go to the back where she always sat. The child in my seat died. God was with me that day, but my heart aches for the loss of life. God bless the families who lost so much that terrible day.

I was on this bus. My father

I was on this bus. My father at the time was a state trooper.He came upon the seen to find me and others in the median. I was very fortunate.