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School bus driver claims dead cat, Jeep responsible for bus ending up in pool

PINE HILLS, Fla. (WKMG) - A school bus carrying students plunged into a backyard swimming pool Friday morning in Orange County, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

The crash happened near Willowwood Street and Rushwood Court in Pine Hills.

"(It) made a real loud bang," neighbor Bill Varhol said.

Orange County Fire Rescue said the bus, carrying nine students to Magnolia School, and a Jeep were involved in a crash. The bus traveled into a yard and through a fence before nosediving into the pool.

The school bus driver told troopers the Jeep swerved to avoid a dead cat in the road, prompting the bus to drive off the road.

The bus driver and nine children were not injured, rescue crews said. Officials said the homeowner helped rescue the bus' occupants, including the driver.

Fire Rescue tweeted that the driver of the Jeep suffered non-serious injuries. She was taken to a hospital, officials said. The three children in the Jeep suffered minor injuries but were not transported for further treatment, according to the crash report.

The driver of the Jeep told troopers a different story of how the crash happened. She said the school bus was driving around a pickup truck parked on the side of the road, when the school bus veered across the double yellow lane into the eastbound lane.

"On a road with a double yellow line, if there is an obstruction, such as a parked car, you are allowed to go around and cross over," Lt. Kim Montes said. "However, you cannot effect traffic coming the opposite way."

Troopers plan to review surveillance video from on board the school bus to help determine an official cause to the crash.

Magnolia is a school for children with special needs, officials said. Orange County Public Schools said the students' parents were notified of the crash and the students were picked up by another bus and taken to the school.

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