A 15-year-old aerospace student was riding his bike early Tuesday morning when a school bus struck him in the road, police said.
Officers arrived to the scene of a “traffic accident involving a bicyclist” at about 7 a.m. on Dec. 5, according to a Lakeland Police Department news release. Police said there they found an “unconscious male” who was hit by a bus. The accident shut down the road for approximately four hours.
The bicyclist was taken to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center but was pronounced dead, police said. He was later identified by authorities as a 15-year-old student at Central Florida Aerospace Academy.
The department said the 15-year-old was trying to make a left turn onto Medulla Road from West Pipkin Road, near Lakeland Linder International Airport. While he was turning, the bus traveling on West Pipkin Road crashed into him, police said.
The bus, which was from charter school system Schools of McKeel Academy, had eight passengers onboard that ranged from ages 8 to 11, according to police. No one on the bus, including its 71-year-old driver, was injured in the crash, police said.
The bus driver has been put on paid administrative leave as the Lakeland Police Department investigates the crash, the school system’s communications director, Kristine Fagan, told McClatchy News.
After the teenager’s death, Polk County Public Schools Superintendent Fred Heid said in a statement that the school system was “heartbroken.” He also urged those in the community to “take extra caution around schools and help save lives.”
“This is a devastating tragedy for the student’s family, as well as Central Florida Aerospace Academy and our community,” Heid said. “We have been in contact with the student’s family and are making counselors available to the students and staff at school.”
Schools of McKeel Academy said in a statement that it joined Polk County Public Schools in mourning the death of the 15-year-old. The school system also intends to “fully cooperate with law enforcement,” according to the statement.
“No mere words can offer any solace. Our hearts are broken over this accident and tragic loss of a young life,” the statement said.
Lakeland is about 35 miles northeast of Tampa.