Driver 'feels terrible' about passing stopped bus

Tampa, FL -- Caught on camera, a Hillsborough County school bus drove right past another on Monday morning as it was loading elementary school children.

The other bus still had its stop signs deployed and its stoplights flashing. So what happened?

See Also: Bus late, runs through other bus' stop sign

It wasn't he made-for-TV moment officials were hoping for on the very first day of classes in Hillsborough County.

The bus in question was specifically added to an existing route to give Middleton High School students living at the Meridian Pointe apartment complex a safer alternative to crossing Hillsborough Avenue at 25th Street.

"It's sad, because I was looking forward to being on time," said Middleton High student Jerry Beniakrou.

By the time their bus arrived, all but one of the kids who would've ridden on it had left in frustration.

"It made me feel like they don't really care about the students here," said Derek Urias, a Middleton 9th grader. "They just care about the students that are far away."

In March, 15-year-old Norma Velasquez Cabrera was killed and her sister injured as the two left the apartment complex, trying to cross Hillsborough Avenue at 25th Street.

The bus stop was added after it was determined too many kids heading to Middleton were jaywalking to take a short-cut to school, rather than using the crosswalk at 22nd Street. An FDOT study also determined a signal and crosswalk are warranted at 25th Street, given the amount of people using the intersection and the number of injuries and incidents resulting from that.

What made Tuesday's matter even worse was the the bus -- which finally left for school at around 7:50 a.m. -- drove right past an elementary school bus that still had its lights flashing and stop signs still clearly extended.

"I haven't seen it, so I can't talk to you about it," said Superintendent MaryEllen Elia when we met her at a nearby school to show her the images, but she declined to look at it until she got back to her office.

Elia promised, however, "We're going to look at everything that happened this morning, review the tape and certainly if it's necessary to take any disciplinary action, we will do that."

Elia says it is not uncommon for some of their 1,400 school buses to run late for the first few days of classes. Unfortunately in this case, one of them happened to be the bus for Meridian Pointe, which news cameras and helicopters had gathered to see.

Instead they caught images of a very late bus making a potentially dangerous departure.

"We're gonna look into and figure out what we need to do, to make sure that doesn't happen," said Elia.

School officials say they have spoken with the driver, who admitted he realized he was making a mistake as it was occurring.

He told them he was "distracted" and felt "horrible" about it.

Before now, they say, he's had spotless record with the district. A committee will investigate the incident and likely note the mistake using a "point" system on his permanent record.

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