30- year-old Reinaldo Gonzales turned himself into the Florida Highway Patrol last Tuesday. He was booked in the Marion County jail in Ocala, Florida charged with vehicular homicide and reckless driving with serious bodily injury.
The auto accident in Florida happened seven months ago and Gonzales has been a free man since then. This angers the parents of 13-year-old Frances Schee, who was the last child trapped on the burning bus when passersby in the Florida town of Citra came to the rescue.
The Florida Highway Patrol explains the seven months by saying that these investigations take time.
Gonzales admits he was text messaging just minutes before he slammed into the rear of the bus with his 18-wheeler.
On the side of the road, U.S. 301 where the crash took place, a memorial still stands to honor the 11 children hurt and one girl killed.
Since the Florida bus accident, several lawsuits have been filed. The Key family has sued Marion county schools. “Since this tragedy we have not felt the board has been responsive to our concerns.”
His lawyer says Gonzales understands, “the gravity of the situation and he does feel bad about the loss of life and the injuries.” That’s too little and way too late. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has no policy in place regarding text messaging. Regulations are left up to the states.
So far Washington State, Alaska, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Connecticut, and California prohibit texting while driving for all drivers. In Washington, it is a secondary offense, meaning an officer cannot pull you over for that offense alone; otherwise you are facing a $125 fine.
Unfortunately it’s high profile accidents that lead to litigation and changes in the law. If you or a loved one has been injured by a truck driver either in a car accident, bus accident, or pedestrian accident, contact Florida’s top personal injury attorneys at Farah and Farah.