HARDEE COUNTY, Fla. - A 9-year-old Bowling Green girl was airlifted to a Tampa hospital and two other children were injured Thursday morning after troopers say they were struck by a pickup truck as they boarded a school bus.
The crash happened shortly before 7:30am on State Road 62 a short distance west of U.S. 17. That's about halfway between Bowling Green and Wauchula in Hardee County.
According to Florida Highway Patrol, 69-year-old Louis Stephen of Bowling Green was eastbound on S.R. 62 approaching a school bus that was stopped for students with lights flashing. Stephen told deputies he was confused by the lights, thinking they were from U.S. 17.
Once he realized what the lights were, he realized it was too late to stop and swerved to avoid rear ending the bus. As a result, his F-250 pickup truck entered the shoulder and struck three children that were preparing to board the bus.
9-year-old Caylin Skipper was flown to Tampa General with critical injuries. 6-year-old Savannah Williams and 8-year-old Alexis Albivter-Martinez suffered minor injuries and were taken to Florida Hospital Wauchula.
Stephen was charged with Failure to Stop For School Bus.