Pasco school principal killed in logging truck accident

Posted at 12:30 PM, Jan 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-20 18:27:14-05

A Pasco County school principal was tragically killed in a logging truck accident in Spring Hill on Friday morning.

Adam Kennedy, 46, of Land O Lakes, was traveling westbound on SR-52 west of US-41 when a semi-truck, driven by Jason Harbarugh, 41, of Wauchula, slowed to turn right into Crossroads Saw Mill.

According to Florida Highway Patrol, Kennedy failed to stop for the semi-truck, and rear-ended the back of the logging truck.

Percy Austin had just opened the gate at the saw mill he works at and saw the impact.

He also saw the logs the truck was carrying smash through the truck’s window.

After the collision, the pickup truck continued northwest and departed the lane, running into the fence along the roadway.

“I seen the truck. It hit the ditch and then went up. Went up in the air like it was flying,” said Austin.

Kennedy died at the scene of the crash.

He was a husband, a father, retired Marine and the beloved principal at Crews Lake Middle.

“There are many administrators in the district that are devastated. I am. The superintendent was having a hard time keeping it together when he was calling school board members. And many students are seeking solace from the crisis team that we have here today,” said school district spokesperson Linda Cobbe.

Some of those students are already making cards for Kennedy’s family.



He is a man described as a nice guy, dedicated principal, and star in the district.

Back at the scene, FHP interviewed the Harbaugh who did not suffer any injuries. .

They said the logs were flagged and had a marker light.

No charges were filed, but the driver got heated when we asked what he had to say about the crash.

“Yeah drive safe. Get off your phones,” he said.

“Are you saying the driver was on his phone?”

“I don’t know,” he replied.

Austin, who has worked at the saw mill for 21 years, said Harbaugh actually had to pull the keys out of the pick-up’s ignition because the wheels were still spinning, even after it hit the trailer, and smashed into a fence.

Several telephone poles were also knocked down, and traffic was backed up on State Road 52 for much of the morning.

“It was a sad thing to see though. What can we do about it? Ain’t nothing we can do about it. Just pray for his family,” said Austin.

Kennedy’s family includes his wife, who is a teacher for Pasco E-school. And his two children, who are both in elementary school.

Here is a statement from the Pasco School district:

"The entire Pasco County Schools family is deeply saddened at the news of the tragic death of Crews Lake Middle School Principal Adam Kennedy. He was an incredible human being and an amazing administrator.

We have crisis team members at the school, and at Weightman Middle School, where Adam was a social studies teacher and tech specialist for 10 years. He was appointed assistant principal at Crews Lake in 2009, and became principal on January 20, 2015.

Crisis team members are counseling teachers, staff, and students at both Crews Lake and Weightman middle schools. They also are available for district staff members at the district office complex campus, and to administrators and teachers throughout the district, to help them cope with the loss."

“I am devastated,” said Superintendent Kurt Browning, who called School Board members to share the news this morning. “I don’t know why things like this happen. Adam was such a tremendous person.”