In his first interview since driving a school bus full of children into a pond, 54-year-old Lenoir Sainfimin agreed to speak exclusively with ABC Action News.
“I try to do the best I can to save the kids’ lives,” he said.
Sainfimin said repeatedly that what happened on the afternoon of Sept. 17 was not his fault but, in fact, should be blamed on failed brakes.
“When the bus hit the pond, I said, ‘Come up front, come up front!,’” he said. “I help all of them out, 27 kids, before myself.”
Sainfimin said he was hailed a hero that day for getting dozens of kids to safety, only for it all to change 24 hours later. The school district said the accident was due to his speeding and being negligent with children on board. The district said it used GPS technology to find Sainfimin was speeding as he approached the guard shack.
Sainfimin has even been cited for careless driving and lost his job. He’s accused of traveling 13 miles per hour over the posted 35 miles per hour speed limit on that road. He said the allegations against him just aren’t true.
“I’m not a careless driver. If the bus has brakes, you can stop the bus. But you can’t stop the bus [if] you don’t have brakes,” he said.
Sainfimin said when he realized the brakes weren’t working, he had two options: Either hit the tree in front of him, or go into the pond. He claims he took the best option in hopes of avoiding serious injuries.
The ABC Action News I-Team has uncovered Sainfimin failed different portions of the school bus driving test several times, but to that he has an answer.
“If I didn’t pass, they can’t hire me as a driver. I passed all the tests they gave me,” said Sainfimin. “I drove in Washington D.C. School bus driver for seven years in bad weather. Never an accident. In ice, in snow.”
He said if he had to do it all over again, he would do the exact same thing. Sainfimin also added the bus he was given as a replacement for his regular bus was more than 20 years old.
Thankfully, none of the children on the bus were seriously injured. The school district said it conducted its own independent investigation and found no mechanical issues with the bus.
We also spoke to Sainfimin’s attorney. He said they are looking into the speeding allegations as well as the claims there was a problem with the bus.
In the meantime, they are moving forward with their day in court. Sainfimin’s arraignment is set for Dec. 29.