POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – One of five children hit by a suspected drunk driver in Florida has died from injuries he suffered in the incident.
13-year-old Jahiem Robertson died Friday morning at Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando. Another child, Juan Mena, 13, suffered significant injuries and remains at the same hospital.
Investigators say former law enforcement officer John Luster Camfield of Davenport, 48, hit the five children Thursday afternoon after the children got off their school bus on Allegheny Road near Athabasca in Poinciana. He then drove away.
“We work traffic fatalities frequently, last year worked 80 different in Polk and every one of them are tragic, but not one of them last year rises to level of total disregard for human life,” said Judd.
He was driving way over the legal limit. Sheriff Judd said he blew a .147 blood alcohol level (BAL) seven hours after the crash — that’s double the legal limit.
“That could’ve been your children, my children or grandchildren. Millions of children across this nation yesterday afternoon…will be standing beside roadway to get onto or off of public school bus. Kids not in road, not misbehaving, not cutting up, just being middle school children on the way home. ”
The other children have been identified as Jonte Robinson, 15, Rylan Pryce, age unknown, and Robertson’s sister, Jasmine Robertson, 14. They were treated at the scene and released.
The deputies say Camfield hit the children, then drove away and hit a stopped car driven by Olivia Oliver, who is pregnant, on the Poinciana Parkway before being taken into custody by an off-duty PCSO deputy who lives in the area and was alerted to it. The woman was transported to the hospital, but she was not seriously injured.
The school bus was not involved and had already left the scene when the children were hit.
The children who were struck attend Dundee Ridge Middle Academy in Poinciana.
The school released the following statement in response to the news:
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. 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.
Sheriff Grady Judd said the suspect was rather lighthearted about the situation and expected preferential treatment.
“When Deputy Quintana arrested him, he made the statement, ‘Give me some respect, I’m a law enforcement officer.’ Law enforcement officers don’t act like that. Wannabes, shouldabes, act like that,” Sheriff Judd said.
Judd called the former officer a drunk. He said he was a very competent law enforcement officer when he was sober, and his colleagues tried to help him, but he was more interested in himself and his drinking. He said he wants to see Camfield behind bars for the rest of his life.
“Because if he’s not in prison, community around him isn’t safe,” said Judd.
Judd also mentioned the suspect is engaged. “If I was his fiance, I would scratch that date,” he added.
Polk County School Board Superintendent Jackie Byrd said the school is doing everything they can to support and uplift the families. Byrd was upset about what happened.
“To have a driver not even care about what happens, and keep going. That should never happen when children are doing what they’re supposed to do, got off school bus, did everything right, and they were going home. For him to drive and leave them on side of the road as if they were nothing, it hurts. It hurts me as a parent, leader of this community and school system.”