May 24, 2010 – Ocala, FL. – The truck driver responsible for the death of a teen student in a 2008 collision between a Marion County school bus and a semi truck has been sentenced to 3 years in prison. The sentence was handed down in an emotional hearing on May 20 in an Ocala courtroom.
Andujar Gonzalez, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide and one count of reckless driving in the case of the Sept. 2008 truck accident in Marion County that killed Frances Margay Schee, 13. The school bus driver and many of the 21 Marion County students aboard the bus were also injured in the truck accident.
Authorities said the crash occurred when Gonzalez-who had no previous safety violations-momentarily looked away from the road to retrieve a dropped cell phone. His semi truck slammed into the back of the Marion County school bus, which had stopped on U.S. 301 to unload students. The impact caused the bus to travel 100 yards and catch fire.
During their investigation of the fatal Florida truck accident, the Florida Highway Patrol found that Gonzalez had been operating for 36 consecutive hours. Federal trucking regulations dictate that after 14 hours of working, a truck driver must take a 10-hour break. Instead, reports indicate that Gonzalez had driven between the Orlando and Jacksonville areas twice without taking the proper rest.
Two civil lawsuits were successfully filed against Comtrak Logistics, Inc., the trucking company who employed Gonzalez. The convicted truck driver will not be permitted to ever again operate a commercial truck.
This tragic Florida truck accident has raised community concerns about the use of cell phones while driving, particularly by those who operate trucks and large commercial vehicles.
If truck driver or trucking company negligence played a role in the death of a loved one, you may be entitled to financial compensation in a Florida wrongful death lawsuit. A Florida truck accident lawyer at Lilly, O’Toole & Brown can help you determine who is liable for your loss and help you sort through the difficult legal considerations that accompany a Florida truck accident claim. Contact our firm today to schedule your consultation; 863-533-5525.