Seffner Football Team Safe After Lakewood Bus Accident

On July 13, 2016 Seffner Christian Academy’s high school football team and staff were involved in an accident passengers described as “scary.” The accident occurred on Interstate 4 driving toward Lakeland near County Line Road on that Tuesday afternoon. There were no serious injuries reported as a result of the accident.

Andy Holmes, the athletic director at Seffner Christian Academy for the past eleven years, was driving the team to a 7 on 7 scrimmage at Lakeland Christian School. The school bus was carrying both the 20 members of the Crusaders, the Seffner Christian Academy’s football team, and members of the athletic staff.

The normal bus driver and summer assistant coach, Eric Leonard, was unable to drive that day because he was training at a new job. First-year Crusaders coach Travis Puleo told reporters “All summer Coach Leonard has driven us for our scrimmages from Orlando to Lutz and all points in between and this was the one scrimmage he couldn’t drive for us.” He went on to state that Holmes agreed to step in as the driver so Leonard could attend his interview.

While traveling along the highway, a moving truck in the right hand lane blew a tire. The tire caused the moving truck to turn and collide with the side of the school bus. The collision sent the school bus toward the middle of the highway, launching it into the center protective guard rail.

“There is no way I could have prepared myself because you just couldn’t see it coming,” Holmes stated, “I was talking to another coach afterward and he said ‘Maybe it’s better you didn’t because sometimes when you see an accident coming you tend to overcorrect.”

Holmes told reporters that as the school bus moved through the guardrail, he believed it was going to careen into oncoming traffic on the other side of the highway. Fortunately, it stayed along the middle of the median and traveled down the sloped embankment, preventing further accident.

“I thought we were going to end up in oncoming traffic or flipping the thing, because there was just no time to react,” Holmes continue, “Looking at the tracks, diagonally they looked like they were heading that way, but instead it just made a beeline straight down the median instead.

Puleo confirmed the other staff’s beliefs also stating: “I’m not sure if anyone else wouldn’t have overcorrected that wheel and we would have turned over.” He believes that Holmes’s expert driving saved everyone’s life, stating to reporters “I’m telling you right now God used him to save us.”

Holmes, was transported to the hospital by ambulance following the accident but was released that evening. Though he was shaken, doctors determined he had no serious injuries. Following the incident Holmes took a much earned “day off” from work Wednesday to recover.

Luckily none of the 20 football players nor any of the staff was seriously injured. Though the accident left many of the young passengers scared.

The accident did however severely damage the front of the school bus, leaving it inoperable. The school bus had to be towed away from the scene of the accident.

Seffner Christian Academy’s school administrator Roger Duncan released a statement Tuesday evening to parents and on social media. The release stated: “One of the police officers working the scene told our staff, ‘It’s a miracle the bus did not go all the way through the median into oncoming traffic.’”

Holmes confirmed Duncan’s statement, telling reporters: “There’s no doubt for me that God had his hands on it, and I felt like honestly it should have been way worse than it was.”.