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FHP: Truck driver who hit school bus arrested

Witnesses say truck driver never hit brakes; his wife was naked in cab

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LAWTEY, Fla. – State troopers on Wednesday arrested the driver of an 18-wheeler that struck a stopped Bradford County school bus on U.S. 301 last September.

As a result of the Florida Highway Patrol investigation, Shannon Ford was charged with four counts of reckless driving resulting in serious bodily injuries. Ford was arrested at his home in Putnam County, booked into jail and ordered held on a $2 million bond.

Troopers said Ford was driving the log-hauling big rig about 2:45 p.m. Sept. 29 when it struck the school bus that was slowing to drop off students at a stop on 301 at NW 183rd Street, just south of Lawtey. According to the FHP, the bus had its flashing yellow lights and stop arm extended when it was struck from behind.

The school bus was carrying 15 students from Starke Elementary School at the time. Seven of the 15 Starke Elementary students on board along with the bus driver, 37-year-old Jennifer Lynn Swanson, of Starke, were injured and taken to various hospitals.  Authorities said the most serious injury among the children was a leg injury.

Shannon Ford (pictured from June 2014 arrest), 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.

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

IMAGES: Bradford County school bus crash

The FHP and Bradford County deputies said the passenger was naked at the time of the crash.

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

Shannon 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.

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Shannon Ford also has numerous arrests in Putnam County, including grand theft, domestic battery, burglary, theft, trespassing and, most recently, for shoplifting.

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

According to Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith, the wife was given a towel from troopers to cover up when she exited the cab in front of the children.