A jogger was severely injured early this morning (March 18) when a school bus struck him, requiring him to be evacuated to Halifax hospital’s trauma unit in Daytona Beach. The bus driver was not at fault, authorities said.
The incident took place on Sesame Boulevard in Seminole Woods just before 6:30 a.m. as a school bus, the Panther (Bus 9710), was making its rounds on its way to Buddy Taylor Middle School. It had 37 students on board, Transportation Director Winnie Oden said.
“Apparently the pedestrian was actually running, and he was running on the white line of the road, but the bus driver could not see him,” Kristy Gavin, the school board’s attorney, said. “The mirror of the bus is what hit the pedestrian in the head. According to information I have received they are not faulting the driver.”
A sheriff’s report made available Thursday identifies the victim as Richard Allen McAtee, a 31-year-old resident of Seminole Woods. The report specifies that the Panther bus was heading north after pulling away from a stop at the south loop of Sedgwick Trail. A car coming from the opposite direction had its high beams on. The bus driver flashed his lights at the oncoming driver, but the driver failed to dim the lights. Just as the two vehicles passed each other, the bus driver realized there was a jogger in the road, with McAtee jogging on the white line. The bus driver swerved to avoid him. The report indicates that it was the “right front” of the bus that struck the jogger, who was thrown onto the shoulder.
Flagler County 911 received the call of the incident at 6:27 a.m., according to 911 records. The information relayed to the dispatcher was that the bus had hit a man “in all black,” and that the incident had happened “in the middle of Sesame.” Later Oden got a clarification for a deputy that in fact, the jogger was “in dark colors,” but not all in black. Notably, “there was no reflective marks” on McAtee’s clothing, Oden said.
At first the driver, Bob Gordon, was concerned that the victim was under the bus. Two or three minutes later, the dispatcher was informed that the victim was about 50 feet behind the bus, possibly with broken bones.
The emergency evacuation helicopter in St. Johns County was contacted (Flagler County’s Fire Flight’s shifts do not begin until 8 a.m.) but the helicopter was cancelled when it declined to fly due to weather.
The victim was conscious, complaining of lower back and shoulder pains, and possibly of broken bones. Flagler County Fire Rescue’s Rescue 11 took the patient to Halifax at 6:46 a.m. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the wreck. The road was reopened a little after 7 a.m.
A student who witnessed the crash as he awaited the bus from a nearby stop described it: “They pulled away from a bus stop and around the time that the bus would have been up to speed I heard a loud screech and the bus pulled over. After this, it became apparent that it was something major with he response of so many emergency vehicles.” Some 20 minutes later, another bus came in to pick up the students.
The students were taken to Buddy Taylor that other bus. “What we do in a situation like that is we immediately roll another bus to the scene,” Oden said, meaning either another bus making a run but with adequate seating, or another bus from the depot. “The panther bus eventually went to FPC, we just rolled another bus to take that one’s place.” One bus depot is located behind Flagler Palm Coast High School.
“After getting to school,” the student-witness said, “administrators took everyone who was on the bus that wrecked as well as people like myself who had not yet been picked up by the bus yet to the cafeteria where they had us all write down what we witnessed and gave us the opportunity to speak with guidance counselors.”
“The process,” Stephen Hinson, principal at Buddy Taylor Middle School, said, “is to give the students an opp to state whether they were physically injured or needed an opportunity to see a counselor.” He described such events as potentially traumatic. “Any time you deal with a car wreck where someone has been injured, you want to make sure the kids are supported.”
All parents of students involved were contacted and given the chance either to pick up their children at the school or to visit and speak with them. A few did just that, but the majority elected to let their children go on with their day, and most did. Hinson said a couple of students were “a bit distraught” by the situation, and a couple, because of the bus’ sudden stop, may have had minor aches. “But for the most part all the kids were fine.”
“Our team responded they did a great job making sure the students’ needs were being met and the individual involved in the accident was being well taken care of,” said Superintendent Jacob Oliva, who was in Tallahassee to follow legislative issues relevant to the Flagler district. “People had everything in place and followed protocol”
Gordon, Oden said, “has been with us for many years, he has a great record, great rapport with the children, he was really emotionally devastated by that.”
The victim’s name and the sheriff’s report on the incident were not yet available Wednesday afternoon, but Oden said the victim, with whose status she had kept up during the day, was by afternoon “well enough to be communicating on social media.” As for Gordon, Oden said he spoke of “that noise that he’ll probably hear for a while,” referring to the thud that signaled that the person had been hit.
The sheriff’s report noted that McAtee, the jogger, “sustained injury to his spleen and there was a lot of bruising to his left leg and buttocks. [McAtee] could not remember exactly what happened. He knew that he was jogging and remembers being struck and being thrown into the ditch. He could not provide any further information.”
In January, a bus heading to Buddy Taylor with 47 students on board struck a vehicle that had been catapulted in its way by a third vehicle that struck it from behind. The driver of the vehicle struck from behind subsequently died. That wreck took place on Whiteview Parkway in Palm Coast. Two dozen students were hospitalized with minor aches but none were admitted that day.
The crash diagram from the sheriff’s report:
Carol Fisher says
I wish joggers would wear something reflective if they run in the dark. I almost hit one once, then barely avoided an accident with a car when I suddenly swerved. I hope this person was not severely injured, and I hope this was a lesson for all. I hurt for the bus driver that has to deal with this.
marissa peterson says
I am reading what some are posting saying it is my bus drivers fault. I am a student that sat in the very first seat and I saw everything. The worst part was the noise you heard from the jogger… I understand the car trying to see in the dark but that car could have reacted when my driver flashed his lights motioning him to dim them. As a student I have gained something from this. Never go walking or running without something reflective. I also gained the ability to never forget the sound the jogger made when he hit the mirror. I had a panic attack but over all I feared that, we killed a man. Until I read this I knew he was okay but remember, my bus driver is not at fault for being blinded by a car with high beams on making it impossible to see. Be kind and if you want to say something rude or thinking that the car was an excuse talk to me the witness.
Very sad. I hope that the jogger will recover quickly.
But frankly I am surprised it hasn’t happened more often. I even stopped to nicely advise a jogger of my concern for their unsafe running too close to traffic, and got a profane response. And don’t they teach you in kindergarten which side of the road to walk on?
move over says
I’m a runner and I’m always amazed by how close drivers will get to me even if the other lane is clear. We have a law for 3ft minimum distance for bikes-to-cars and move over for emergency vehicles but walkers and joggers are left unprotected – day or night, with or without reflective gear. Mover over!
Seriously do you think they all know the laws? why risk it? wear reflective clothing and you move.. what if they don’t see you then what? to late your dead and your family pays.
move over says
Rebecca. You missed the point completely. You could be glowing with fire comming off you, day or night. Drivers always see how close they can get to walkers and joggers cause in their mind its their road. Be safe and move over.
Carol Fisher says
IF a driver can’t see you, a driver can’t move over. I totally honor the 3ft law, but if I don’t know you’re there, or a deer is there, or a dog is there, I don’t KNOW to move over! How hard is it to wear something reflective if you want to run in the dark on a ROAD!
Sandra Reynolds says
I find just the opposite when I walk. Just the other day walking on a fairly busy road every driver moved over as far as possible when passing me. And I was walking as close to or on the grass facing traffic.
David S. says
Reflective clothing can save your life,a good lesson for all.
Reflective vests costs about $5. I see many people walking in my neighborhood after dark, even at midnight with all dark clothes. Accident waiting to happen.
Sidewalks would help.
People, this is why you walk and run against traffic.
” requiring him to be evacuated to Halifax hospital’s trauma unit in Daytona Beach” A building can be evacuated to evacuate a person would be to give them an enema. Learned that from one of the best HBO series The Wire.
Matt, Larry David’s gospel aside, HOB shows’ one liners are not our stylistic guideposts here anymore than are, for that matter, AP’s gestapo-like style book or Noah Webster’s oddly French penchant for language purity.
Carol Fisher says
I wish you had a “thumbs up” for your comments. You got mine with this comment
First, the seniors in this county do not want any lighting or light poles, they want palm coast to be in the dark. Being that said, that is why people that cant see well at night and they use their high beam, so they can see better. Now nothing is said about the driver with the high beam and how the driver did not switch the high beams when he was another vehicle approaching… the reflective gear for the runner … he should have had something that would help to be able to see him, but still we need better lite up roads here in palm coast.
And while I am here… how about the cyclist on a sidewalk! they don’t stop at a crosswalk? and expect a car that already did their stop to not turn ? sidewalk are for people that are walking not cyclist. People on sidewalk always stop and look before crossing, and if a car is at the intersection (someone courteous) they then wait till the person crosses. There are cyclist lanes and they don’t even use them… why?
Palm Coast needs to re-think its light situation, sidewalk situation, and seniors that drive horrible here!!!
The bus driver is absolutely at fault. Period. Pedestrians have the right of way. It’s the law. I agree that joggers and the like should wear reflective clothing for their safety. However, instead of flashing another car traveling with high beams on, the bus driver should have focused his eyes to the white line (as I was taught to do) to avoid the lights, and would have seen Ricky. I can say that joggers choosing to run so close to the roadway is problematic and unsafe, but if bus driver was practicing defensive driving, this wouldn’t have happened.
Stop blaming seniors. I am not a senior and from my observation there are more younger (60 and under), careless drivers on their cell phones, speeding and distracted, then seniors. As for the individual with their high beams. I wonder if they were trying to warn the driver that there was a jogger on the road. As for the jogger, I do agree they should wear reflective gear. However, my experience walking or bicycling in Palm Coast with a safety vest, following the rules of the road is that you will still get run over. I have had several situations while walking were i had to jump into the swale because the driver was distracted glancing at their cell phone. Get off those freaking cell phones!
Runners are MORE likely to be hit when we wear conspicuous clothing, not less likely. Since four-wheel drivers’ education apparently omits any mention of target fixation (the single key point of all two-wheel drivers’ education), it’s not surprising that it happens so often. Anyone can try it for themselves. Walk on a straight piece of road wearing a high-visibility jacket or vest and watch drivers veer toward them. If you’re lucky they’ll correct at the last second. Now take the jacket off and repeat and notice how many fewer drivers steer toward that thing they see on the side of the road.
Sherry Epley says
Dear Runners and Bikers,
Those driving powerful machines that could easily harm you or take your life are not intentionally trying to harm you, not at all! Run and bike OFF the road for the sake of yourself, your loved ones. . . and for those driving. It really does not make a difference who has the legal “right of way” when you are suffering in pain in the hospital!
Drivers unfortunately are “legally” allowed to be extensively DISTRACTED while driving, in the state of Florida. They are TEXTING, talking on their cell phones, accessing the internet, eating & drinking, putting on make up, etc. Yes, they are dangerous to you. . . but bizarrely, basically, not illegal in their actions.
Your safety and well being is in your hands. . . why put yourself at such high risk? Choose to exercise safely! Pick your battles and stand up for your rights in less dangerous ways. . . VOTE! Vote for safer streets! Vote and write letters to government leaders regarding the dangers of texting/phone usage while driving. . . stand up for your life’s passions! Just please do it in a way that has a much lower risk factor. . . please be SAFE out there!
Flagler Native says
Thanks Palm Coast for finally getting sidewalks put in down Seminole Woods Blvd. Ya think maybe you could put in sidewalks from our main side streets ie: Citation, Sesame trail, so that maybe we can GET to the sidewalks and/or playground on Sesame blvd or on Seminole Woods Blvd???