Poor vehicle maintenance, shoddy record keeping and a host of code violations were uncovered during an investigation of G.B. Green Construction, after its dump truck hit a school bus in late August.
Sixteen students and driver Harriet Collins were injured in the crash when the dump truck – driven by Abraham Larry Jr. – ran a red light at Pace Boulevard and Jordan Street, striking and overturning the bus.
According to documents obtained by the Pensacola News Journal, the Cantonment-based firm has been fined $11,250 by the Florida Highway Patrol’s Compliance Investigation Unit, which investigated in early September. G.B. Green also gets an overall safety rating of “unsatisfactory.”
The report also says Larry was sentenced in June for possession of marijuana and cocaine.
“I’m certainly not surprised. We asked for the investigation once the condition of the dump truck was noticed [on] the day of the accident,” said Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas. He and many others felt the truck didn’t belong on the road.
“My concern was not only as Superintendent of Schools charged with the safety of students on our busses,” said Thomas. “I’m concerned as a motorist about what other trucks this company might have, and what condition they’d be in.”
Among other things, the report cited the company for a worn tire on the truck involved in the crash; two dozen maintenance violations, failing to conduct required drug screenings, and failing to comply with annual vehicle inspections.
In a brief phone conversation with WUWF, owner Gregory Green said he intends to pay the fine, that those involved are safe, and that everyone should “move on with their lives.” Green indicated he would not appeal the ruling.
There’s no set time frame for the improvements. Rob Doss, the District’s Transportation Director, says it would have been “catastrophic,” had those students been in a private vehicle instead of a reinforced school bus.
“It is the safest vehicle on the road,” Doss said. “The state design specifications are extraordinary, with all the reflective tape requirements, rollover requirements, the caging over the top, reinforced rails and side structures. And even the seats are designed for maximum student safety.”
Superintendent Malcolm Thomas says the accident did not lead to any changes in their existing school bus policy. And he repeated his litany when it comes to transporting students.
“Riding on a school bus is still the safest way to get back and forth to school each day.”