HARDEE COUNTY - Three children about to board a Hardee County school bus were injured when a driver swerved onto the shoulder of the road to avoid hitting the bus Thursday morning. The crash occurred around 7 a.m. in front of the Country Manor Apartments on State Road 62 near Highway 17. Deputies say the driver did not realize the bus was stopped and hit the children while trying to avoid colliding with it. A 6-year-old and an 8-year-old were taken to a local hospital and released. A 9-year-old girl, Caylin Morgan Skipper, was taken by medical helicopter to Tampa General Hospital. Her injuries are said to be non life-threatening. The driver, 69-year-old Louis Edward Stephen, told troopers that he mistook the red lights on the school for the flashing lights at a nearby intersection.
He was charged with failure to stop for a bus.