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Big Cypress Wilderness Institute driver kills child in crash

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Reddit TroubledTeens:
Source: ... ident.html

Camp driver in deadly accident had driving record

Pg 1

By Carol Marbin Miller ... rylink=cpy

After Johnson Atilard had been pulled over by police nine times in three years — including stops for speeding, leaving the scene of a crash and operating an unsafe car — his bosses at an Everglades youth prison took away his driving privileges.

In a memo dated Feb. 1, the director of the Big Cypress Wilderness Institute told Atilard he could not drive any of the company’s cars, or drive any of the delinquent youth detained at the program in his own car. “Big Cypress’ insurance will not cover you,” Atilard was told. “Failure to abide by these restrictions places AMIkids Big Cypress in a position of great liability.”

Atilard ignored the warning.

Two weeks ago, he was behind the wheel of a Ford Expedition carrying seven teens in state custody when he lost control of the SUV while taking a curve, crashed into a road sign and plunged into a canal. Both Atilard and 17-year-old Daniel Huerta, a teen sent to the program by state youth corrections administrators, died in the crash.

Department of Juvenile Justice bosses said earlier this month that the crash, and Atilard’s involvement, are under investigation.

“We again express our sincere regret that this accident occurred,” said C.J. Drake, a juvenile justice spokesman in Tallahassee. “We are working with our contract providers to make sure the appropriate precautions are taken for the safety of the youth in our care.”

Shawna Vercher, a spokeswoman for AMIkids, the company that runs the youth camp under contract with DJJ, said the agency is investigating how Atilard, 25, was able to drive children in the group’s care despite orders not to. “We know there is a policy in place. We will determine who violated the policy, and prevent it from happening again. It’s clear the policy was violated.”

“From the organization’s perspective,” Vercher added, “we want to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

AMIkids’ Big Cypress Wilderness Institute in Ochopee is a 35-bed residential program for at-risk boys ages 14 to 18. The company provided The Miami Herald with Atilard’s personnel file under Florida’s public records law.

Atilard, a graduate of Estero High School in Lee County, applied for a job at Big Cypress in April 2010. He had worked previous stints at a Walmart store and a Whole Foods grocery. The application asked whether Atilard had been issued any tickets for moving violations during the previous three years. “Seat belt and window tints,” he replied, according to his file.

But that was only partly true.

Between April 2007 and the date he signed his application, Atilard had been ticketed five times, including violations for driving an unsafe vehicle and leaving the scene of an accident. Prior to that, he had been ticketed for speeding, unlawfully avoiding a traffic control device and driving on the wrong side of the road. He also had been given a notice to appear on misdemeanor charges of giving alcohol to a minor in August 2008. He pleaded no contest to that charge, though adjudication was withheld.

Otherwise, Atilard had no arrest record, and his references, the file shows, spoke well of him: “Johnson is a very intelligent young man. He will be a great addition to your [group],” one former colleague wrote. “Johnson is a very hard-working individual. He is very dedicated and will excel in anything he does,” wrote another.

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Damn. The text to the Christmas greeting on the frontpage of the Fornits Wiki now has to be changed.

Why could they not keep the kids alive so 2011 could have been a year where the teenagers returned home alive?

cum guzzler:

Reddit TroubledTeens:
Uuuuuuuuuuuuugh, Oscar. That's one record I don't like to see broken.

Reddit TroubledTeens:
Not sure why this didn't get posted with pg 1, but here's the rest of the story...

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Atilard was hired as a night watchman in July 2010, records show.

Vercher, AMIkids’ spokeswoman, said it is the agency’s policy to verify the information contained in job applications. “Right now, we have not completed our investigation to determine how” Atilard’s driving history went undetected by staff, she said.

Seven months after Atilard was hired, records show, he was ordered to stay away from company cars and to refrain from driving children detained at the program. Atilard, a Feb. 1 memo said, was “ineligible to drive institute-owned or rented vehicles, ineligible to transport students in any vehicle, and ineligible to drive any vehicle… in the course of AMIkids Big Cypress business.”

Atilard’s bosses, the memo said, had hoped he could regain driving privileges as early as August, when one of the infractions was to lapse beyond the three-year window the company monitored.

But Atilard got in more trouble: During the next several months, he was ticketed five more times, including two more speeding infractions — for a total of five — and for driving with a suspended license.

On Dec. 8, Atilard was driving seven teens back to the wilderness institute after they spent the day participating in an athletic event. He was driving north on Wagon Wheel Road in Collier County at10:15 p.m. when he swerved off the roadway. The SUV crashed into a traffic sign before hurtling into a canal, where it became partially submerged.

Atilard and Huerta died at Physicians Regional Medical Center. The six other youths in the car were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, the Florida Highway Patrol said at the time. The other teens included an 18-year-old from Miami Gardens and a 15-year-old from Florida City.

At the time of his death, records show, Atilard had been issued at least 18 tickets in three counties.

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