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School district mourns loss of staff member
Woman died after SUV struck on Hwy. 9
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County school system is mourning the loss of a veteran employee who died Thursday after a three-vehicle collision involving a school bus and a truck driven by a high school student.

According to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, 43-year-old Lesia Elaine Bennett was pronounced dead at Northside Hospital-Forsyth.

“Our school district is heartbroken over the loss of Lesia Bennett,” said Jennifer Caracciolo, system spokeswoman. “Those that knew Lesia will miss her sense of humor and her caring heart.”

Caracciolo went on to describe Bennett, who was the school data clerk at Kelly Mill Elementary, as “a good person” who was “a dedicated worker that loved the children.”

“Lesia's mother, Diane, has worked in our district finance office for 40 years, so Bennett family has been important members of the Forsyth County school family.”

The collision occurred about 4:50 p.m. at Hwy. 9 and North Old Atlanta and Hutchinson roads, south of the Cumming.

Bennett was traveling east on North Old Atlanta in a Mercury Mountaineer when she was struck by a Nissan Titan that was heading south on Hwy. 9.

The impact forced her sport utility vehicle into the front passenger side of the school bus, which was stopped at the traffic light while waiting to turn left onto North Old Atlanta from Hwy. 9 north.

According to the sheriff’s office, Bennett was not wearing a seat belt.

There were no students on the bus, said Karleen Chalker with the sheriff’s office, and neither of the other vehicles had passengers.

According to the sheriff's office, the 17-year-old male driver of the Nissan, Antonio Aguilera Mora, suffered “minimal injuries” and also was taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released.

The bus driver, identified as 46-year-old Sheila Trowell, wasn’t hurt.

According to Caracciolo, Mora is a student at Forsyth Central High.

The intersection was closed for about two hours as authorities investigated the wreck.

No charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing.

According to Caracciolo, Bennett began working at Vickery Creek Elementary years ago as an office staff member. She then helped open Kelly Mill Elementary School last year.

Bennett, a lifelong county resident, also ran Kelly Mill’s after-school program.

Trowell, who was driving the special education school bus, is a 12-year employee of the school system, Caracciolo said. Though Trowell was stopped at the time of the crash, school system officials are “thankful that there were no students on board.”

Caracciolo added that the fatal collision has shaken the school system.

“Though we are one of the largest school districts in the state, we are still a close-knit family and deeply care about our staff, students and their families,” she said.