Outrage grows over crowded school bus video taken in Duval County

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax is pushing for answers after we obtained exclusive video showing a crowded school bus in Duval County, packed so heavily with students many had to stand in the aisle.


The video was taken by Vanessa Vasquez’s son on his way home from Westside Middle School shows students jam-packed onto a school bus, to the point where many had to stand in the aisle to fit.

“What if a bus hits a car? Then you got kids flying everywhere. If you get into an accident and somebody dies, you can’t bring that child back,” said Vasquez.

FHP Sergeant Dylan Bryan told us Vasquez’s fears are valid.

“We certainly don’t want to exceed the number of passengers allowed on that motor vehicle. Especially when they’re transporting something as precious as our children,” said Bryan.

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Though he refrained from commenting specifically on the particular situation captured by the video, he said in general, standing on a school bus is extremely dangerous.

“The student is most likely going to fall down. They’re either going to fall on another student, fall and hit the seat or even worse fall and hit the floor or even the support bracket of the seats,” said Bryan.

Vasquez wasn’t the only one disturbed by the footage taken by her son.

Michael Daniels has driven commercially for more than 30 years, transporting everything from paper to people.

He’d begun the process of getting license to drive a school bus when he was considering retiring from truck driving, but decided to keep working full time.

He passed the state’s school bus endorsement test and obtained a school bus commercial driver’s license learner’s permit.

Daniels argued there’s no way any bus driver would have thought the situation captured on the video was acceptable.

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“I don’t care if I have to call the Governor’s Office. Something needs to happen to that because something will happen maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow,” said Daniels. “But if one of those kids gets killed because they weren’t properly secured in that bus, there’s gonna be a problem.”

Daniels argued the school district, bus contractor and driver all share some level of responsibility.

We’ve reached out to the contractor, Student Transportation of America for two days in a row and haven’t gotten a response to the incident.

DCPS told us Wednesday it was investigating the incident.

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“The district will investigate this situation and take steps to reduce ineligible riders, properly register riders, or adjust routes to bus capacity,” said a DCPS spokesperson in an emailed statement.

On Thursday the district said leadership would be contacting Vasquez about the incident directly.

There were 207 accidents involving school buses in Duval County last year alone, and Bryan said not only do standing kids have a greater risk of injury in a school bus accident, but they increase the risk of an accident occurring.

“Having numerous students in the aisle is a huge distraction to the driver him or herself. They’re paying attention to the students instead of paying attention to the road and getting our children to safety,” said Bryan.

We’ll continue pressing DCPS and the bus contractor for answers on what’s being done to address this problem.

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In background discussions with some local bus drivers, we’ve learned this is likely not an isolated incident.

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