CBS4 Exclusive: Bus Driver Will Not Face Charges In Accident
POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) – It’s been almost one year since a 14 year old Pompano Beach boy was hit by a Broward County bus that he was trying to board. On Monday, CBS 4 learned that prosecutors have decided not to charge the bus driver with a crime.
In a close-out document released by the Broward State Attorney’s Office on Monday, investigators say they spent a lot of time focusing on whether the teen’s arm was stuck in the door of the bus.
A witness to the accident from May 10 of last year, told investigators that he saw Cunningham’s arm stuck in the bus doors.
However, prosecutors say they pored over the video and did not see that. They also wrote that they conducted tests to see if an arm could get stuck in the bus doors but that an investigator “was fully able to pull his arm out.”
“We believe that at most, Cunningham’s hand was in the rubber flap area of the door and that he was not stuck, but trying to keep up with the bus,” wrote Alexander Fischer, Supervising Assistant State Attorney.
Surveillance video from the area near the Pompano Beach bus stop shows Jerry Cunningham racing to catch the bus. Two women get on and as the doors close Cunningham arrives, trying to get inside. But the bus driver, Reinaldo Soto, drives off — apparently unaware of Cunningham.
Investigators say that the driver — Soto’s — actions amounted to “inattentiveness” and did not rise to the level of reckless driving or culpable negligence. However, prosecutors say Soto did violate two sections of the Florida Bus Driver Administrative Code.
“Soto began to accelerate before the doors were completely closed. It is also clear that Soto did not make the two women standing at the front of the bus move back before he began to drive away from the bus stop,” the memo says.
Jerry Cunningham endured a long rehabilitation and before they decided not to file charges prosecutors said they met with the Cunningham’s family and their attorneys.
“After explaining to the family and their attorneys where the evidence was directing the filing decision, a long discussion began about why we were deciding not to file the case. The family was very upset with the decision, as was the civil counsel,” the prosecutors’ write.
Cunningham’s father spoke briefly to CBS 4 News on Monday about the prosecutor’s decision in the case.
“That’s the decision they have, sorry,” he told CBS 4′s Carey Codd.
CBS 4 News went to the home of the bus driver this evening to get his reaction to this news. A woman at the house said he wasn’t home.
It’s unclear if Soto is back driving for the county. He was placed on administrative leave after the accident.
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