Police said that the student, identified in media reports and a GoFundMe as Jaxon Crabtree, was attempting to bike across a road when he was fatally struck
A 15-year-old student was fatally struck by a school bus in Florida on Tuesday.
The student, who was later identified by his family as Jaxon Crabtree via a GoFundMe, was reportedly attempting to cross a road on his bicycle at the time of the incident, authorities said.
According to a news release issued by the Lakeland Police Department, officers responded to the 3900 block of Pipkin Road at approximately 7 a.m. local time in response to a traffic crash involving a Central Florida Aerospace Academy student and a Schools of McKeel Academy bus.
“The Lakeland Police Department, Polk County Fire Rescue, and the Lakeland Fire Department all arrived to begin life-saving measures,” authorities said. Per the statement, Crabtree was transported to Lakeland Regional Health where he was pronounced deceased.
In another update, Lakeland Police said, based on evidence gathered, “the school bus was traveling west on West Pipkin Road approaching Medulla Road" when “the bicyclist was attempting to make a left turn northbound onto Medulla Road from the eastbound left turn lane.” Crabtree was in the path of the bus when he was fatally hit.
The police added that the investigation is ongoing.
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Authorities further noted that the school bus driver, whom they later identified as Nina Lewis, 71, stayed at the scene. The bus carried eight passengers between the ages of 8 and 11, all of who attended South McKeel Academy and McKeel Academy Central.
Per local Fox affiliate WTVT, Lakeland Police Chief Sam Taylor described the incident as a “horrific accident” during a press conference. Taylor added that the incident occurring “20 days before Christmas makes it even worse.” Taylor also said that the speed of the school bus didn't appear to be a factor and that the bus driver was “extremely upset by the circumstances.”
Lakeland Police did not name the victim in its news release, but multiple media reports and a GoFundMe page established in Crabtree's memory identified the teen. A candlelight vigil was held at the crash scene on Tuesday evening, according to local NBC affiliate WFLA.
“He was such a good friend, always there for me, always there for his classmates,” Carter Catalano, a friend of Crabtree, told the news station. “It’s horrible to see something like this happen, especially because he bikes home every day.”
In a statement shared with PEOPLE Wednesday, Polk County Public Schools wrote: “We are heartbroken by [Tuesday'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. We have been in contact with the student’s family and are making counselors available to the students and staff at school," official added. "We urge everyone in our community — all motorists and students — to take extra caution around schools and help save lives.”
Local ABC affiliate WFTS reported that a traffic light is being installed at the intersection of Medulla Road and West Pipkin Road, but the procedure has been "stalled due to supply-chain issues in procuring the controller cabinet," a representative for Polk county told the news station.
PEOPLE reached out to the Lakeland Police Department and the GoFundMe organizer for additional information, but did not receive an immediate response.
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