Fight underscores difficulties school bus drivers face - FOX 13 News

Fight underscores difficulties school bus drivers face

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Breaking up a fight left a Hillsborough deputy with a broken finger, injured trying to break up a school bus brawl.

Considering the chaos that erupted on the bus, it's no wonder there are more than 100 openings for bus drivers in the Hillsborough County School District.

The principal at Greco Middle said, after reviewing the video from the bus fight, he's pleased that the majority of the kids tried to steer clear of the mess and he thanked them for that.

But he also sent a letter home with kids Friday night, urging parents to drive the point home, that the fight could have been a very dangerous situation had it gone any further.

Deputy Troy Fallin never thought stopping to help what he believed was a broken-down school bus would land him a broken ring finger on his right hand.

"When I walked up into the bus, the kids were yelling and screaming," said Fallin. "And it looked like there was some kind of fight going on in the back of the bus."

Turns out, the driver pulled over when a fight broke out and called 911. There were 30 to 40 kids on board. Two students came up to him and told him they'd been struck. And another student was determined to get off the bus and get home.

"I tell him he's not going to leave and he pulls away, full force, hits me in the chest," said Fallin, who fell backwards, but his hand was still twisted, caught in the student's shirt.

Temple Terrace Police subdued the student. It was then, the right-handed deputy saw his finger pointing unnaturally away.

"The principal of the school, when he watched the video, when they were told to sit down, they sat back down," said Linda Cobbe, spokesperson for the district.

The principal at Greco Middle actually got on each of the school busses and thanked the students who made the right choices by not getting involved in the fight. He also handed out the rules for riding the school bus, that each student has to sign and return by January 23rd, or they won't be allowed to ride the bus.

"Asking parents to review these things with your child and remind them, that not only their safety, but the safety of all the other students on the bus and the safety of other people on the road," said Cobbe.

"You have to watch the road. you have to see what's going on behind you, and you need to keep these kids under control. it's not an easy task," said a former bus driver named Ed, who used to drive for Greco Middle. He called it one of the toughest schools for drivers.

The district is struggling to find enough drivers to fill dozens of vacant positions.

"They have huge responsibilities and a lot of times, the students aren't respectful," said Cobbe.

Right now, there are 148 openings for bus drivers in Hillsborough County. Fallin was meeting with a hand surgeon Friday evening, to find out if his finger will have to be re-set. So, there's no telling yet how long he'll be off duty.

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