School bus driver blamed for crash into pond

- The Hillsborough County school bus driver who veered off a road, plowed through a neighborhood guard gate, and landed a bus full of children in a nearby pond has now been cited for the crash and fired from his job.

A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson made the announcement during a press conference Tuesday afternoon, nearly a week after the crash took place.

Lenoir Sainfimin, 54, has officially been charged with careless driving after investigators were unable to replicate his claims of mechanical error with the vehicle's brakes.

"The driver's actions, his mistakes, were careless," HCSO Major Chad Chronister said, adding that Sainfimin was going at least 45 mph in a 35-mph zone.

"Video footage confirmed our suspicions because we could hear the accelerator on the bus -- we could hear the engine accelerate, but the bus wasn't accelerating," Chronister continued.  "He was most likely hitting the brake but most likely also hitting the accelerator at the same time."

In the week since the crash, FOX 13 learned Sainfimin was hired as a substitute driver for the school district in August, despite a crash and a careless driving citation from January of last year.

DMV records showed he completed traffic school to have the points removed from his license.

Records also showed it took Sainfimin nine attempts each before he passed the general knowledge portion and air brake portions of the commercial driver license exam.  The school bus portion took him three attempts.

Superintendent Jeff Eakins announced late this afternoon that Sainfimin -- who was still in his post-hire probationary period -- had been fired, based on the sheriff's office investigation.

"We have severed our relationship," Eakins stated.

The sheriff's office said Sainfimin was "extremely" cooperative during the investigation and they gave him credit for making sure every child made it off the bus.

"Regardless of who causes the crash, when you help every child to safety, I would call that person a hero," Chronister added.

If he's convicted of careless driving, Sainfimin will have three points on his license.  A second citation while driving a bus means he'd lose his license for 60 days.

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