Central Florida Aerospace Academy student, 15, killed in fatal Lakeland bus crash

Police cruiser lights.
Police cruiser lights.

LAKELAND — A 15-year-old Central Florida Aerospace Academy student was killed in a bus crash Tuesday morning.

Lakeland Police Department responded to a call around 6:58 a.m. Tuesday reporting a traffic crash involving a bicyclist near 3900 West Pipkin Road, near the Medulla Road entrance into CFFA.

Officers found an unresponsive male who was struck by a Schools of McKeel Academy bus, according to Officer Stephanie Kerr, a member of LPD's public information team.

The 15-year-old boy was transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. The identity of the teen has not yet been released by Lakeland police department.

Lakeland offices said the McKeel school bus was traveling westbound on West Pipkin Road when the teen, who at the same time was trying to turn left from West Pipkin Road to head north on Medulla Road. The bicyclist crossed into the path of the bus and was struck, according to police.

“We are heartbroken by this morning’s news of a Central Florida Aerospace Academy student who lost his life in a traffic accident before school. This is a devastating tragedy for the student’s family, as well as CFAA and our community," Polk County Public Schools Superintendent Fred Heid said in a press statement. "We have been in contact with the student’s family and are making counselors available to the students and staff at school."

Heid urged drivers and students to take extra caution around schools to save lives and help prevent future accidents.

Bus driver, 71-year-old Nina Lewis, of Lakeland, remained at the scene and was not injured. There were eight McKeel students ranging from age 8- to 11-years-old on the bus at the time of the accident, according to Kristine Fagan, McKeel's director of communication and community relations. None of the students were injured.

"This morning we learned of a tragic accident involving one of our buses and a PCPS student. No mere words can offer any solace. Our hearts are broken over this accident and tragic loss of a young life. We join our PCPS family and the family of the student as our community processes this enormous grief," read McKeel Academy's statement.

McKeel Academy said it would fully cooperate with law enforcement throughout the ongoing investigation. It has made grief counseling services available to its students, Fagan said.

Sara-Megan Walsh can be reached at swalsh@theledger.com or 863-802-7545. Follow on X @SaraWalshFl.

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Central Florida Aerospace Academy student, 15, killed in fatal Lakeland bus crash