LAKELAND, Fla. — A 15-year-old student was tragically killed on Tuesday morning when he was struck by a school bus in Lakeland, Florida. According to authorities, the student, identified as Jaxon Crabtree by his family through a GoFundMe page, attempted to cross a road while riding his bicycle.
The Lakeland Police Department reported that the accident took place around 7 a.m. on Pipkin Road, involving a Central Florida Aerospace Academy student and a bus from Schools of McKeel Academy. Emergency responders, including the police department, Polk County Fire Rescue, and the Lakeland Fire Department, arrived promptly to administer life-saving measures. Despite their efforts, Crabtree was later pronounced dead at Lakeland Regional Health.
Police evidence indicates that the school bus was traveling west on West Pipkin Road when the bicyclist, situated in the eastbound left turn lane, attempted to make a left turn northbound onto Medulla Road. Tragically, Crabtree was in the path of the bus when the accident occurred. The incident is currently under investigation.
The school bus driver, identified as 71-year-old Nina Lewis, remained at the scene following the collision. The bus carried eight passengers, all of whom attended South McKeel Academy and McKeel Academy Central and were between 8 and 11.
Chief Sam Taylor of the Lakeland Police Department described the accident as “horrific” during a press conference. He noted that the timing, just 20 days before Christmas, made the situation even more devastating. Chief Taylor also mentioned that the bus speed did not appear to be a factor, adding that the bus driver was deeply affected by what happened.
While the victim was not named in the police’s news release, multiple media reports and a GoFundMe page established in Crabtree’s memory confirmed his identity. A candlelight vigil was held in his honor at the crash scene on Tuesday evening.
In response to the heartbreaking news, Polk County Public Schools expressed their deep sorrow and offered their support. Counselors were made available to students and staff at school, and officials urged everyone in the community to exercise extra caution near schools to prevent similar accidents.
According to local reports, plans are underway to install a traffic light at the intersection where the incident occurred. However, the project has been delayed due to supply-chain issues in procuring the necessary equipment.