A truck driver who hit a school bus full of children in 2014 has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Shannon Ford was driving a log-hauling big rig according to WJXT when it slammed into the school bus in Bradford County, Florida. The school bus was slowing down, preparing to drop off students.
“We almost lost our children that day. It wasn’t just a bus accident,” said the mother of one of the children. The child, Jackson, suffered an open skull fracture. He had dreams of playing football and joining the Marine Corps, neither of which he will be able to do, according to his mother.
Seven of the 15 students on the bus along with the driver were injured and taken to local hospitals. The most serious injury reported was a crushed leg.
Ford and his wife Sherry, who was naked in the truck's cab, were both seriously injured. Sherry claims that she took her clothes off because she was hot and that the impact of the collision tore her underwear.
Another truck driver, Terrence Jamerson, was an eye witness to the crash. He confronted Ford and then punched him in the face after Ford claimed he did nothing wrong.
In court, Ford still denied culpability, claiming that the trucking company did not properly maintain the truck, which led to the crash. WJXT indeed confirmed that eight of 10 brakes were defective.
"Shannon has said so many times that he wished he was killed that day, so the kids could have no injuries," Sherry Ford pleaded to the court on behalf of her husband. "He wanted his own life taken."
Ford was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a number of emotional testimonies showed the psychological impact of the crash on the children and on the driver.
"Every time I close my eyes at night, I hear those screams and see those scared little faces," said school bus driver Jennifer Swanson, according to WJXT.
Prosecutors showed a video of the traumatic crash in court. Parents held back tears as they watched their children thrown from their seats, screaming in fear.
“The emotional aspect of this wreck has almost been unbearable at times. I’m forever traumatized by the screams and the sights that I’ve seen that day,” Swanson said. “I will forever be damaged, and I don’t know if I’ll ever feel whole again.”