School bus driver cited, fired after crashing into pond

Thomas McMahon
Posted on September 22, 2015

TAMPA, Florida — A driver whose school bus careened into a large pond and tipped over with students on board last week has been cited and fired for the incident.

The crash occurred on Thursday afternoon. There were 27 elementary school students on the bus, all of whom made it safely back to shore with help from the driver, fellow students and others who responded to the scene.

Some early media reports drew attention to the age of the bus — it was a 1994 model with close to 300,000 miles on it. Also, the driver, Lenoir Sainfimin, said that he was hitting the brakes but couldn’t stop the bus.

However, investigators found no problems with the bus’ brakes, nor did the maintenance records for the vehicle show any related issues, police and district officials said.

On Tuesday, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office cited Sainfimin for careless driving. A police spokesperson said in a news conference that the driver apparently hit the accelerator while hitting the brake.

Jim Beekman, general manager of transportation for Hillsborough County Public Schools, told SBF that GPS data from the bus showed that its last recorded speed was 48 mph.

Beekman said that after the bus went into the pond, it tipped onto its right side, which became submerged in the water. The bus did not have seat belts — it was built before Florida enacted a requirement for lap belts on school buses in 2001.

Sainfimin was new to Hillsborough but had prior school bus driving experience in the Washington, D.C., area. Beekman said that Sainfimin had just gone through training with the district and was still in a probationary period. He was let go on Tuesday.

Still, Beekman noted that after the crash, Sainfimin made sure that his passengers got out safely.

“He was the last one off the bus, and he went back to ensure that everyone was off that bus,” Beekman said.

Related Topics: brakes, driver training, evacuation drills, Florida, school bus crash, seat belts

Thomas McMahon Executive Editor
Comments ( 15 )
  • Christopher Wheelock

     | about 5 years ago

    Really guys, if you are state certified Florida school bus inspectors then you know it is already put it to the inspectors check list any bus newer than 2000 is required to have matching seat belts. I know this doesn't help any for the situation where you have 84 passingers in a bus but, the seat belt cutter location was changed to the drivers reach because, I told the testers that if the driver seat belt jams and the cutter is up in the locked compartment then he won't have much time to help any passengers. I think it is still safer having them for the students to use but , it is up to the students if they wish to use them. Every accident is bad but how many water related accidents where the bus ends up in the water. only my opinion.

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