Bus driver says brakes failed in crash that sent 2 to hospital

2 vehicles stopped at red light struck as bus tried to avoid them

By Corley Peel - Reporter, Allyson Henning - Reporter, Cole Pepper - Sports reporter/anchor, web producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A bus carrying children to Ephesus Junior Academy was involved in a three-vehicle crash Wednesday morning on Lem Turner Road, injuring at least four people. Two of them were taken to a hospital.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue officials said four of eight people on the bus were hurt. One child on the school bus had to be taken to a hospital. The other person hospitalized was an adult from one of the other vehicles.

Walter James, an administrator for Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church, which runs the school, said the bus' brakes failed as it approached the intersection of Lem Turner and Trout River Boulevard.

According to James, the driver did the best he could to not ram the bus into vehicles stopped at a red light. Instead, the driver attempted to squeeze between the cars, crashing into the sides of vehicles on either side.

"He is upset, because he loves children and is sorry to see them hurt," James said. 

Joyce Isaac's daughter was limping when she got out of her car and was examined by paramedics.

"(The driver) came straight over and said, 'I'm so sorry. Are you guys OK? The brakes failed. I couldn't stop,'" Isaac said.

Frances James said her 8-year-old son, who was on the bus, was hit on the head.

"He has a knot on his head, so I'm going to take him to the ER," Frances James said. "It's scary, but he seems OK. We'll take him to the ER to get evaluated."

Frances James said she's grateful that besides the bump on his head, her son is safe.

Walter James told News4Jax that the school plans to get the bus examined to find out why the brakes failed.

“If we find out it was in inadequate service, then of course, we’ll correct that," Walter James said. "But if it’s something that happened unavoidably, as things do, you can only plan for that by having insurance." 

News4Jax asked school administrators when the bus, a 2012 Starcraft, was last inspected, but no one responded.

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