Mechanics must testify before decision can be made on bus driver who drove into pond

Lenoir Sainfimin was charged with careless driving
Posted at 6:26 AM, Dec 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-17 20:53:56-05

Update: 5:45 p.m.--The former Hillsborough County bus driver, who crashed into a retention pond last September, will have to wait weeks to hear if he’s guilty of careless driving.

The judge is demanding the two mechanics who worked on that bus after the incident, testify first. That means more waiting for Lenoir Sainfimin, who spoke exclusively to ABC Action News after the crash.

“I am not a careless driver," said Sainfimin.

He says the incident was not his fault and claims the brakes failed.

Meanwhile, Hillsborough County deputies say he was speeding 13 miles per hour over the speed limit.

But the crucial basis for the careless driving charge is a post-accident exam. It found no mechanical defects with the bus. A point defense immediately attacked.

They stated the brake system was compromised because the towing company let out the pressure from the brakes after taking the bus out of the pond.
A Hillsborough County deputy on scene allowed and defended this decision in court saying she didn’t see a problem with it because she’s not a mechanic. The defense also brought up the bus’ long history in the shop.

“Are you aware that five different times in the last year the braking system of this bus has collapsed?" asked defense attorney, Ralph Fernandez, of the deputy. "Don’t you think that would be important for the person assessing that?”

The defense went on to say the bus was aging at 21-years-old with 300,000 miles, mentioning the typical retirement age for buses is 15-years-old.

Fernandez also questioned missing footage from inside the bus. Surveillance video cuts of a couple of seconds before the bus hits the pond.

The sheriff's office representative stated that they reached out to the manufacturer to try and pull the missing footage but were unsuccessful due to water damage.

Meanwhile, the judge said he can’t make a decision without hearing from those mechanics and figuring out if letting the pressure out of the brakes messed with the exam.

Original Story: The man who was behind the wheel when a Hillsborough County School bus crashed into an Odessa pond in September of 2015 will finally have his day in court.

Lenoir Sainfimin was failed a hero the day of the crash for getting all 27 kids on board safely off the bus. But after the crash, Sainfimin was cited with careless driving; a district G.P.S. tracker on board shows the bus was going 13 MPH above the 35 MPH speed limit before the crash.

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Sainfimin, 50, tells ABC Action News the brakes on board the bus suddenly stopped working moments before the crash, which accounts for both his high rate of speed and the final destination. But a district review of the bus after the crash found no mechanical problems, and ultimately, the crash was blamed on driver error. Sainfimin was fired.




Sainfimin says he doesn't regret his actions that day, and believes the district set him up to fail by giving him a 20-year-old replacement bus that day.

The court hearing on Friday isn't about his job, but about the charge. His attorney says they are fighting the charge and expect to win the case.