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Police identify SUV driver in deadly JTA bus crash

9 passengers injured; bus driver gives CPR to driver of SUV that hit bus

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 54-year-old man was killed early Thursday morning when his SUV rear-ended a Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus on Beach Boulevard near St. Johns Bluff Road.

The crash happened at 6:35 a.m. Thursday. Police said nine passengers on the bus suffered minor injuries and were transported to hospitals. There were about 25 people on the bus when it was hit, police said.

The bus driver, Charles Kohn, was not hurt and administered CPR to the SUV driver, later identified as Eugene S. Kaligian, until rescue personnel arrived.

Lt. D.J. Valentine said Kaligian was taken to a hospital but died.

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Police said a passenger in the SUV left the scene and was found later when he sought treatment for injures at a local hospital. His name was not released.

Two eastbound lanes of Beach Boulevard remained closed until about 9:30 a.m. while Jacksonville Sheriff's Office traffic homicide detectives investigated the fatal crash.

Investigators were trying to determine if Kaligian was distracted when he hit the bus and if he was wearing a seat belt.

"I pray for that man and his family," said bus passenger George Daniels, who wasn't hurt but knows some of the passengers who were.

A local insurance agency has said it plans to reward Kohn's efforts to save Kaligian with a Heroic Acts Award that includes a $250 cash reward. The award will be presented next month at a union meeting.

"Allstate on Racetrack's Heroic Acts Award is designed to recognize responsible drivers and acts of heroism that take place during an accident," agent Deanna Williams said. "We are impressed that Charles Kohn had taken time to get CPR training and administer it at the accident scene."

Witnesses said the SUV rear-ended the bus as it was preparing to pull off after picking up passengers. JTA officials said their drivers are not required to have first-aid training or to administer aid to citizens off the bus.

"The JTA bus driver took appropriate action," Valentine said. "He made sure everyone on the bus was OK, and then he went and rendered aid to the driver of the SUV, including CPR, and then rescue took over when they arrived." 

Kaligian had a criminal history and was a convicted drug dealer. He also had arrests for burglary, dealing in stolen property, forgery, resisting arrest, worthless checks and grand theft.

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