Bus Driver in Hillsborough Pond Crash Charged with Careless Driving
In an accident scene that had photos disseminated across the globe, the driver of the Hillsborough County District school bus that ended up on its side in a residential neighborhood pond last Tuesday afternoon now faces charges of reckless driving. According to Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff’s Office officials, Lenoir Sainfimin was speeding in excess of thirteen miles per hour over the posted speed limit of thirty-five miles per hour. Police officials now feel that speed was definitively a contributing factor, if not the proximate cause, in the school bus crash, which ended as the bus came to rest several away from the embankment of the pond. At the time of the accident, the bus contained twenty-seven students, as well as the driver.
Specifically, police officials consulted with an independent laboratory to conduct testing on the mechanical functionality of the vehicle prior to the crash, and upon finding no indications of mechanical failure as a cause of the accident, investigators ultimately relied upon surveillance footage from within the bus to construct a likely pattern of events leading to the accident. Investigators now believe that excessive speed and simultaneously pressing both the gas and brake pedals caused Sainfimin to lose control of the vehicle, as it skidded off the roadway into the pond located at the intersection of Kingsmill Place and Nine Eagle’s Drive. Miraculously, no students were harmed in the accident, which sent scores of bystanders into the water to rescue children emerging or attempting to emerge from the pond.
In light of early media reporting, a later press conference by the Hillsborough County District saw school officials concede that they were are of a prior similar charge against the driver from another state within the past two years. However, school superintendent Jeff Eakins defended the district’s hiring practices publicly, stating that no extant regulations, rules, or policies prevented the hiring of Sainfimin this past August. Shortly after an investigation by the District with cooperation from the driver, the District then terminated its relationship with Sainfimin, who had been hired recently for his first year with the school system.
To date, no personal injury claims have arisen from this specific Florida school bus accident, and both police and school officials have stated publicly that no students were injured in the course of the loss of control and crash into the pond. However, each year, numerous bus accidents do occur in which passengers serious, if not lethal injuries, as the result of careless driving, mechanical failure, and driver impairment contracting to or causing an accident causing injury or death. Moreover, by way of vicarious liability theories applied in the state of Florida in contract or tort claims, school districts or government entities may become responsible parties for causing, contributing to, or failing to prevent damages sustained by passengers as the result of bus driver negligence.