Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) investigators are conducting a criminal probe into the March 30 bus crash that sent five Levy County students to the hospital, including two with serious injuries.
“We are going to consider it a criminal investigation until it’s not,” FHP Lt. Pat Riordan said in a Thursday phone interview.
Riordan said preliminary crash reports can become available within seven to 10 days, but investigations involving potential criminal wrongdoing remain sealed while the probe continues. Riordan also said the level complexity is key.
“These types of investigations are always lengthy, but the length is generally determined by the number of vehicles involved, number of people involved, and other complexities,” he said. “If it’s a single-vehicle, single-occupant fatality, we are usually able to wrap those up a little quicker.”
The crash occurred on a divided highway north of Inglis in southern Levy County. Dash cam footage posted online appears to show a tractor trailer slamming into the stopped school bus at 72 miles per hour.
The incident sparked scrutiny of the shipping company operating the truck and sent five students to UF Health Shands for treatment. Two suffered serious injuries, but all five survived.
“Two of the children that were most seriously injured are still recovering,” Riordan reported Thursday, more than four weeks after the crash.
Riordan said he expects the investigation to take another 30 to 45 days before it is completed.
“Our justice system is built for us to make sure we’ve got the elements of a crime or we don’t,” Riordan said. “We have to do things by policy, by law, and there’s a lot of requirements that we go through so that we have factual information before we conclude what transpired.”