The driver of a school bus that plunged into an Odessa lake with 27 children on board Thursday has been charged with careless driving, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Lenoir Sainfimin is accused of traveling 13 miles over the posted 35 mph speed limit when the school bus he drove jumped a curb and went into the water.
“The driver’s actions were his mistakes, and his decision were careless,” Maj. Chad Chronister said.
Sainfimin, who was hired in August, is no longer working for the school district.
The crash occurred about 2:30 p.m. in the area of Nine Eagle Drive and Kingsmill Road. The bus was carrying students from Mary E. Bryant Elementary School. The students and the driver were able to get out safely.
“We believe as he was approaching that guard shack, coming up the hill, he was traveling too fast and had some split second decisions to make: Do I strike the guard shack? Or do I try to bring this bus to safety by jumping the curb,” Maj. Chad Chronister said. “We think he went with, ‘Hey I can save this. I can try to regain control of this bus,’ at which time he was unfortunately unable to.”
Deputies used GPS to determine he was going at least 48 mph at the time of the crash, Chronister said. They were unable to replicate mechanical issues with the bus and, based on audio of the vehicle, it sounded as if he was pressing his foot on the brake and accelerator simultaneously.
“He panicked, and this is the result,” Chronister said.