Pasco County collision overturns daycare bus

Kids R Kids bus carried 24 children

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. - A daycare bus with 24 children on board overturned Friday in northeast Wesley Chapel, according to Florida Highway Patrol.

The crash occurred just after 4 p.m. on State Road 56 at Mansfield Boulevard, authorities said. Only minor injuries were reported.

According to FHP, the bus was headed west on S.R. 56 and tried to turn left across the eastbound lanes onto Mansfield Boulevard. The bus drove into the path of an oncoming 2006 Chrysler CV, which struck the passenger side of the bus.

The impact turned the bus onto its left side.

Eight children received minor injuries and two were taken to hospitals for evaluation, the report says. The children were between 5 and 10 years old. The bus driver, Crystal Ann Sithong, 39, of Wesley Chapel and the driver of the Chrysler, Cathy Roland McKinney, 66, of Zephyrhills were also hospitalized.

Sithong was ticketed for violating the right of way.

The bus belonged to Kids R Kids Learning Academy in Wesley Chapel.

Students from Double Branch Elementary School were on the bus, said Linda Cobbe, Pasco County schools spokeswoman. The daycare sent a replacement vehicle to the scene. Some of the students returned to the campus with school employees.

Cobbe described their injuries as "bumps and bruises."

Paul Gonzalez's 6-year-old daughter was one of the students hospitalized. 

"Panic, that's the only word you can think of," Gonzalez said. "As a grown man, I just wanted to cry."

Gonzalez immediately rushed to the scene when he heard about the crash. 

"All I heard was a little girl scream 'daddy,' and that's when I knew my daughter was OK," he said. 

At Double Branch Elementary School, teachers like Christine Salerno were relieved to hear the students' injuries were minor. 

"We just all want to make sure they get home safely. That's our job here," said Salerno, a fourth grade teacher. 

FHP continues to investigate this crash.

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