Boy dies after former law enforcement officer hits children at bus stop, sheriff says
Former Mississippi deputy, police officer had 10 DUI, driving-related arrests
POINCIANA, Fla. – A former Mississippi law enforcement officer with a history of arrests and alcohol abuse hit and killed one student and injured four others after they got off a school bus Thursday afternoon in Polk County, sheriff's officials said.
John Camfield, 48, of Davenport, was arrested in the crash, which was reported just before 5 p.m. on Allegheny Road near Athabasca in Poinciana.
The children, ranging from 12 to 15 years old, attend Dundee Ridge Middle Academy in Poinciana.
Jahiem Robertson, 13, died Friday at Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital. His 14-year-old sister, Jasmine, was also hit and was treated at the scene.
Robertson was not expected to survive his injuries, hospital staff told the Sheriff's Office Friday morning.
Stacy Gideons, the principal of Dundee Ridge Middle Academy, released a statement to students and other community members following Robertson's death Friday.
We are deeply saddened to inform you that one of our students, Jahiem Robertson, has passed away from injuries he suffered yesterday evening after being struck by an intoxicated driver in his neighborhood.
We are devastated by this news, and wish to extend our condolences and prayers to Jaheim’s family and friends," Gideons said. "Four additional students from our school were impacted by yesterday’s incident, and one student remains at the hospital with serious injuries. Our entire school family and community will continue to keep these students in our thoughts and prayers. Counselors are available for any students or staff who need assistance. We thank you for your support during this difficult time."
Robertson's teachers described him as a fun, energetic student who easily made friends at school and was devoted to his studies and sport.
"He worked hard at his studies, maintained good grades and was a delight in the classroom," his teachers said. "He was a member of the basketball team and gave 100 percent at practice, as well as during games."
Juan Mena, 13, suffered life-threatening injuries and was airlifted to Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital along with Robertson. Mena was released from the hospital Monday.
Mena's teachers said he was a fantastic and diligent student who has many friends and seems to get along with everyone. They also mentioned that he loves soccer.
Ryan Pryse, 12, was hit in the arm and Jonte Robinson, 15, was treated at the scene and released.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd called Camfield a "complete and total drunk" and said that unless he is jailed, "the community around him is not safe."
Camfield has a history of reckless driving arrests and driving under the influence, according to the Sheriff's Office, including more than 10 charges in Mississippi.
Deputy J.J. Quintana, 30, whose daughter was at the bus stop but was not injured, ran to the scene after hearing the crash while he was on the phone with his daughter.
"I've been in this job for four years and I've seen a lot," Quintana said. "Nothing compares to hearing your daughter and not being able to help."
This is PCSO Deputy J.J. Quintana, who ran out of his house last night, off-duty, barefoot, & caught DUI suspect Camfield. He's our hero. pic.twitter.com/g1GRXm4tpo— Polk County Sheriff (@PolkCoSheriff) April 28, 2017
Quintana didn't even put on shoes before he ran outside, he told media during a Friday news conference.
After he realized what had happened, "I switched from being a father to a law enforcement officer," Quintana said.
Two nurses in the area administered aid to the victims and called 911.
After Camfield struck the children and fled the scene, he crashed into a car, Judd said.
Quintana said that by the time he found Camfield down the road, he had stumbled out of the car. Quintana arrested him.
The pregnant driver of the car that was struck was not seriously injured, deputies said.
[LISTEN BELOW: 911 call after suspect runs into children at bus stop]
The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Camfield was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter, one count of vehicular homicide and nine other charges related to the hit-and-run crash.
Camfield's bond was set at $600,000 during his first appearance Friday. If he bonds out he will be required to undergo periodic drug and alcohol testing and will have a curfew from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m.
"Our goal is that he never, ever, ever gets to walk around as a free person again," Judd said.
Camfield blew a .14 percent blood-alcohol content, almost double the legal limit, more than seven hours after the crash, Judd said.
Camfield's employment history includes director of public safety in Cypress Gardens, the Yolobusha County Sheriff's Office, the Tunica County Sheriff's Office, the Oxford Police Department and the Hernando Police Department Office.
Polk County Schools superintendent Jackie Byrd said counselors were available Friday at the school and for the victim's families.
"I'm at a loss for words this morning. This is truly tragic for us ... to have a driver not even care about what happens, to keep going," Byrd said.
Byrd said she met with the victims and their families Thursday. She said Mena, who is in the ICU with facial fractures, was worried about missing school.
"Juan is in good spirits," Byrd said. "Both families are very, very hurt."
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