LAWTEY, Fla. – The driver of an 18-wheeler that struck a stopped Bradford County school bus on U.S. 301 in September 2014 has pleaded no contest to reckless driving charges.
Shannon Ford, 37, who was charged with four counts of reckless driving with serious bodily injury, entered the no contest plea as jury selection was set to begin.
Ford will be sentenced at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Bradford County court.
Troopers said Ford was driving the log-hauling big rig about 2:45 p.m. Sept. 29, 2014, 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.
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.
IMAGES: Bradford County school bus crash
The FHP and Bradford County deputies said Sherry Ford was naked at the time of the crash. According to Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith, she was given a towel from troopers to cover up when she exited the cab in front of the children.
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.
Shannon Ford also has numerous arrests in Putnam County, including grand theft, domestic battery, burglary, theft, trespassing and, most recently, for shoplifting.