18-Wheeler Driver Sentenced to 20 Years for Bus Crash

In September 2014, Shannon Ford, now 37, slammed into the back of a school bus in Florida, injuring multiple students. Now, two years later, Ford has plead no contest to four counts of reckless driving with bodily injury. The judge gave Ford 20 years in prison as a result of the seven school students who were injured in this brutal crash.

Sadly, these sorts of events have become commonplace, and with more than 500,000 school buses transporting over 24 million kids between school and home each year (and increasing), the possibilities of a similar event happening are only continuing to grow. Here at J. Gonzalez Law Firm, we truly hope you’ll never have to go through the heartache and stress of dealing with a child, or loved one, involved in a 18-wheeler accident. But if that unfortunate day should ever come, we want you to know that we’re more than willing to fight for the justice you deserve.

No one should ever have to go through what these children and families have experienced. Even though it’s been two years since the incident, the event has continued to haunt the lives of the children and the bus driver; taking a toll on their emotional well being and their future.

On that fateful day, 911 operators had received several calls about a logging truck driving erratically on U.S. Highway 441 near Starke, Florida.

On that same road, bus driver Jennifer Lynn Swanson had just stopped, and was preparing to let a student exit the bus. That was when she intuitively glanced in the rearview mirror only to glimpse an 18-wheeler fast approaching, but not attempting to slow down in any manner. Immediately reacting to the situation, she released the break and punched the gas in an effort to move the bus out of harm’s way. But it was too late. Shannon Ford plowed into the back of the bus, forcing it into a nearby ditch.

At the time, 15 elementary aged students were on the bus. In total, 7 students, along with the bus driver, were injured and taken to various local hospitals. The impact of the accident crushed one student’s leg and caused another to suffer an open skull fracture and traumatic brain injury. One dreamt of becoming a cheerleader at the University of Florida. The other hoped to play football and become a Marine. Now neither one will be able to fulfill their childhood aspirations. Swanson claims that the images of that violent crash are etched into her memory and still cause her to cry when she thinks about the unsuspecting children being savagely tossed around.

Most tellingly, Ford has a lengthy history of traffic violations including five driving violations since 2007: two for driving with a suspended license, two for speeding, and one for operating a vehicle in an unsafe condition. On top of that, Ford also had numerous arrests including grand theft, domestic battery, burglary, theft, trespassing, and shoplifting.

Though he blamed the trucking company that owned the 18-wheeler for not properly maintaining the truck, evidence collected indicated that Ford was driving recklessly as he was distracted by his wife, who was also in the vehicle, and who was found naked when emergency responders reached the crash site.

An FHP trooper did testify that eight of the truck’s ten brakes were defective, making it a safety hazard to other drivers. This testimony could make the truck’s owners liable for the accident as well.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act has attempted to make trucking companies responsible for the maintenance of their vehicles, driver training, drug testing, and compliance with safety standards. However, there has been some changes in safety regulations, maintenance requirements, and the use of multiple vendors to spread liability amongst different companies and insurers in the event of an accident.

Regardless of the circumstances though, our experienced 18-wheeler and truck accident attorneys know how to deal with the responsible party – whether it’s a big corporation or negligent individual – J. Gonzalez Law Firm won’t back down. We can help you identify all potential sources of liability and fight for your compensation.

We understand that when your or a loved one (especially a child) is involved in a accident with a massive commercial vehicle, your primary focus should undoubtedly be on getting healthy.  But while you are regaining your strength and recovering, let J. Gonzalez Law Firm fight you legal battles. Give us a call at (956) 630-6700 to get the right team on your side.

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