WINTER GARDEN, Fla. — A school crossing guard was pinned under a vehicle and critically injured in a three-car crash Wednesday in Winter Garden, police said.
- Crossing guard left in critical condition after 3-vehicle crash
- Eastbound SR 50 at Avalon Road was shut down for investigation
- Another crossing guard hit earlier Wednesday; they're expected to be OK
The crash happened just before 3:30 p.m. at State Road 50 and Avalon Road. The crossing guard, who has worked for the Orange County Sheriff's Office for almost two years, is assigned to that intersection and services students from nearby Tildenville Elementary and Lakeview Middle schools, deputies said.
Police on Thursday identified the crossing guard as Gislaine Booker of Winter Garden. She has several broken bones and will require surgery, according to Sheriff John Mina. At last check Booker was still listed in critical condition.
The conditions of the other two injured people were not released.
"Our crossing guards are an invaluable resource and are integral to keeping the kids of Orange County safe every day when they show up at their posts. We are praying for the crossing guard’s speedy recovery," the Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
The eastbound lanes of S.R. 50 at Avalon were closed for several hours and reopened at about 6:45 p.m.
Police said it could take several weeks to investigate the crash and determine what charges, if any, will be filed.
Another crossing guard was hit Wednesday at their post in the Lake Nona area off Moss Park Road and Storey Park Boulevard around 8:31 p.m. Although the crossing guard had minor injuries, they're expected to be OK.
“This is the second school crossing guard that’s been struck by a motorist within two days of school coming back into session, and again, we just want to urge our motorists out there to please be careful and watch what they’re doing," Mina said Thursday.
He said Wednesday's injury crashes have him considering changes, including whether to raise salaries for crossing guards or to bring in an outside company that supplies crossing guards. Mina said he'd have to look at his budget for next year before he can commit to any proposed changes.
Possible Pay Raise for Crossing Guards
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said they’re looking at increasing pay for school crossing guards.
“They literally save lives by being out there,” said Orange County Sheriff John Mina.
He said Wednesday was a grim reminder of how dangerous the job can be. Now, Mina's asking everyone to get rid of distractions and pay special attention while going through school zones and crossings.
Right now, Orange County has a shortage of crossing guards. Deputies like Mike Johnson are filling in the gaps.
“We need about 15 more crossing guards to be fully staffed,” Johnson said.
Acknowledging the shortage and dangers that come with the job, Mina said they’re looking to increase the pay for their crossing guards. Right now, they make $13.52 an hour, but he said they’re looking to increase it to at least $15 an hour.
“We’ll have to look at this year’s budget and see if we can incorporate in the budget, and then next year include that in the ongoing budget,” Mina said.
He did not say when this pay increase might happen.