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Crime & Courts

Police: Students say Sarasota bus driver using cell phone during crash


Published:   |   Updated: September 20, 2013 at 06:45 PM

The Sarasota Police Department is investigating a crash involving a school bus and garbage truck during which students say the bus driver was using a cell phone.

The crash between the Sarasota County bus, driven by Audrey Howe, 58, of Sarasota, and the Waste Management garbage truck, driven by Larry D. Saffold, 57, happened 3:40 p.m. today at Ringling Boulevard and Tuttle Avenue.

Police say the garbage truck was stopped at the intersection, stuck in traffic at a green light, when the school bus ran into the back of the truck.

Two children on the bus reported seeing the bus driver using a cell phone on or about the time of the crash and was possibly texting, police said.

Howe told police that at the time of the crash she was looking in the rear-view mirror to deal with misbehaving passengers. She denied she was using her phone at the time of the crash, but admitted she did use it earlier during her route as a clock.

The school bus had 25 children on board. Several children were examined by the Sarasota County Fire Department, but none were taken to the hospital

A passenger in the garbage truck, Michael T. Curry, 42, of Sarasota, complained of back pain and was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, police said.

The children were traveling on the bus from Gulf Gate Elementary School to the Boys and Girls Club at 3100 Fruitville Road, Sarasota.

Howe has been charged with careless driving, police said. The investigation is continuing.

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