Elijah Smith of Miami, Florida was arrested after he allegedly hit a school bus last Wednesday, causing it to careen into a nearby home. Damage to the home was so extensive that it now has to be demolished. Smith, 39, was booked at Miami-Dade County Jail on charges of leaving the scene of crash with an injury, leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, having an expired drivers license, and habitually driving with a suspended license. He remains incarcerated in lieu of paying $11,500 bail bond. It is not clear whether Mr. Smith has retained a private criminal defense attorney.
According to the car accident report, the collision occurred last Wednesday and involved a home located at 2100 Northwest 47th Street at approximately 2:30 p.m.. Smith was allegedly driving his black Dodge Durango down the street when he ran a stop sign and crashed into the school bus. The school bus driver, who was driving two special needs students home from Edison Park Elementary School, subsequently lost control of the vehicle. The bus reportedly crashed through a fence and ended up lodged in the home.
The two children and two adults aboard the school bus at the time of the accident were all treated on the scene for minor injuries. The residence contained two people, 78-year-old Collis McDuffie and his granddaughter, Dominique McDuffie. The bus reportedly crashed through a bedroom, and damage to the house was extensive enough to wear authorities have deemed it structurally unsound. It is scheduled to be demolished soon. It is not clear where the McDuffie family plans to relocate, nor it is clear whether they plan on pursing damages.
“I just turned around and I see a bus inside the house,” Dominique McDuffie told reporters, explaining that she had just walked out of her room and into the kitchen when the accident occurred. The bus crashed into her room. “I’m blessed to be alive because I could have been still in that room,” Dominique said. Her grandfather reflected that sentiment. “I feel good cause I didn’t get hurt, she didn’t get hurt, that’s a blessing right there,” Collis McDuffie told reporters. “The house can be replaced but you can’t replace life.”
A witness reported seeing Smith leave the site of the hit-and-run accident on foot. “The guy was on the phone, talking. I just heard him say that he ran the stop sign, and then he was talking on the phone and the next thing you know, he disappeared,” the witness, who lives nearby, told the press. Smith was apprehended the day after the accident occurred. It is not clear what information led to his arrest.
Some have speculated that the school bus driver, whose name has not been released, may have been speeding at the time of the accident. The speed limit in the area, which is in a school zone, is 15 miles per hour, and the school bus was unable to stop in the 15 feet between the road and house. While the school bus driver has not commented on the speculation, Miami-Dade County has reported that it does not plan on launching an investigation in response to the claims.