FORT PIERCE, Fla. — The State Attorney's office won't charge anyone criminally in the fatal public school bus crash that happened March 26 in St. Lucie County, Assistant State Attorney Bernard Romero said Wednesday.
Bus driver Albert Hazen, 56, is cited for the traffic offense of careless driving, Romero said after reviewing the Florida Highway Patrol's 109-page report about its investigation. The FHP concluded nothing leading up to the crash, nor the crash itself was a criminal offense.
"It was non-criminal careless driving, but still it was a tragedy" that caused grief and suffering, the attorney said.
"Based on the investigation, there was no alcohol or drugs involved, there was no texting or phone number. (The bus driver) had both hands on the wheel."
Weather and road conditions didn't play a role in the incident, according to the FHP.
"He (Hazen) was just inattentive" when making a left turn, Romero said.
During April, the FHP released a preliminary seven-page crash report that said Hazen was inattentive as he improperly turned left into the path of a semitrailer causing the death of Aaron Beauchamp, 8, and injuring 16 other students of Frances K. Sweet Elementary School in Fort Pierce. They were among 30 students on the bus at the time of the accident at 3:45 p.m. on March 26 at the intersection of Okeechobee and Midway roads.
Hazen was driving west on Okeechobee Road and attempted to turn left onto Midway Road when the bus went in front of an oncoming semitrailer carrying sod, the report said. The bus spun 180 degrees clockwise and the truck overturned, ending upside-down. Injured students were taken to hospital emergency rooms including St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach.
One student was in a medically induced coma for three weeks because of critical head injuries. During May fifth-grade student Joey Yannucci, 11, returned to school.
It is standard procedure for the FHP to ask for a review in traffic homicide cases. Weather and road conditions didn't play a role in the incident, the report said.
Hazen is no longer employed by the St. Lucie County School District, according to spokeswoman Janice Karst.