The driver of an 18-wheel logging truck that slammed into the back of a school bus in Florida two years ago, injuring seven school students, was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison.
Shannon Ford, 37, pleaded no contest Monday to four counts of reckless driving with bodily injury. The judge gave Mr. Ford five years for each count and credit for 500 days already served.
Moments before the September 2014 crash, 911 operators in Bradford County, Fla., received calls about a logging truck owned by Mo’s Trucking of Palatka, Fla., driving erratically on U.S. 441 near the town of Starke.
Jennifer Lynn Swanson, the driver of the school bus, had stopped the vehicle and was preparing to let a student exit when she noticed in the rearview mirror that a truck was approaching but making no effort to slow down. She then released the brake and stepped on the gas in an attempt to avoid the collision, but Mr. Ford’s truck plowed into the back of the bus and forced it into a ditch.
Mr. Ford has a long history of traffic violations, including two for driving with a suspended license, speeding, operating a motor vehicle in an unsafe condition, and a tag violation. He also has a substantial criminal record that includes grand theft, domestic battery, burglary, theft, trespassing, and shoplifting.
Evidence indicates that Mr. Ford was driving the commercial truck recklessly because he was distracted. Mr. Ford’s wife, Sherry Ford, 35, was also in the vehicle and was naked when emergency responders reached the crash site.
“Sherry Ford testified Wednesday that she had taken off her clothes because it was hot inside the truck cab, and the impact of the crash tore her underwear off,” News 4 Jax reported.
The impact of the crash crushed one student’s leg, leaving her with permanent, debilitating injuries. Another student suffered an open skull fracture and traumatic brain injury, killing his dreams of playing football and becoming a Marine, his mother told News Jax 4.