A Lakeland woman who recently began her teaching career in Tallahassee was killed Wednesday when her car collided with a bus on Interstate 10, officials said.
The Florida Highway Patrol reported that Abby Meredith Fishburn, 22, drove the wrong way on the highway and collided with the bus about 3:20 a.m.
Fishburn was a recent Florida State University graduate and a first-year science teacher at Deerlake Middle School. She taught sixth and seventh grade.
According to Dolphin Transportation, which operated the bus, 17 of the 43 people onboard were injured, including the driver, 42-year-old Johnny Brutus, who suffered a broken foot. The others were treated and released from Tallahassee area hospitals, the company said.
FSU said Fishburn graduated in the spring of 2012 from the School of Teacher Education and was on her first teaching job.
"Her whole dream was to be a teacher and she adored her kids. We need thousands more teachers like her," said FSU education professor Helge Swanson, who oversaw her teaching internship. "We lost a powerful soul here."
Deerlake Middle Principal Shane Syfrett said counseling services had been available to anyone in the school and that two, first-year teachers who worked closely with Fishburn had been given the day off.
"They've taken this loss very hard," he said.
Troopers said Fishburn's 1997 Ford Taurus entered the eastbound side of the highway and started heading west into oncoming traffic where it eventually collided with the bus. The stretch of interstate was closed for several hours early Wednesday.
Naples-based Dolphin Transportation said the bus was returning students to Collier County from Pensacola, where they were competing at a USA Skills Competition. The company said it is working with the Collier school district and families to make sure students get back safely.
“Dolphin Transportation wishes to express its sympathy to the family of the driver who died in the accident,” the statement said.