82ºF

FHP names truck driver who hit school bus

Witnesses say truck driver never hit brakes; female passenger was naked

photo

LAWTEY, Fla. – One day after a tractor-trailer rear-ended a Bradford County school bus, sending seven students and three adults to area hospitals, the Florida Highway Patrol named the truck driver and his passenger.

Troopers say Shannon Sherrell Ford, 35, was driving the log-hauling big rig when it struck the school bus that was slowing to drop off students on U.S. 301 at NW 183rd Street, just south of Lawtey, about 2:45 p.m. According to the FHP, the bus had it's flashing yellow lights and stop arm extended when it was struck.

IMAGES: Bradford County school bus crash

Ford, and his passenger, his 34-year-old wife Sherry Ford, were both seriously injured in the crash and taken to UF Health Shands in Gainesville. The FHP and Bradford County deputies say The passenger was naked at the time of the crash.

Florida Division of Motor Vehicles records show Ford's license was suspended in 2011 when his insurance was canceled, then suspended again in 2013 for failure to pay a fine.

Previous booking photo of Shannon Ford from Putnam County Sheriff's Office
Previous booking photo of Shannon Ford from Putnam County Sheriff's Office

Ford has had five driving violations since 2007, two for driving with a suspended license, two for speeding, one for operating a motor vehicle in unsafe condition and once for a tag violation.

Ford also has numerous arrests in Putnam County, including grand theft, domestic battery, burglary, theft, trespassing and, most recently, for shoplifting. (Photo, right, from June shoplifting arrest)

The rig Ford was driving, which is owned by Mo's Trucking in Palatka, was stopped earlier Monday in Nassau County for two minor inspection violations.

The school bus was carrying 15 students from Starke Elementary School at the time. Seven of them and the bus driver, identified as 37-year-old Jennifer Lynn Swanson, of Starke, were injured and taken to various hospitals. None of the injuries were considered life-threatening. Authorities said the most serious injury among the children was a leg injury.

photo

FHP has said charges are pending. Investigators said they did not have any indication that alcohol or drugs were a factor, but said speed and/or distracted driving could have played a role.

According to Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith, the woman passenger in the cab of the semi was given a towel from troopers to cover up in front of the children.

"I'm mad; really mad," said Joseph Baguess, whose 8-year-old nephew was injured in the crash. "I can't believe people do something like that."

A school bus driving on the exact same route Tuesday did not stop at the bus stop where the accident happened Monday afternoon.


About the Authors: