Delontae Wingfield, then 12 years old, says he pleaded with his school bus driver to let him off at his stop in Herndon, but she refused. The driver allegedly told Delontae that “if he wanted to get off the school bus that he would have to jump off the school bus while it was moving because she was not going to stop the school bus,” court papers state.
So Delontae, fearful he was going to miss a doctor’s appointment, went to the emergency exit and jumped out while the bus was still moving on Hiddenbrook Drive, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Fairfax County Circuit Court.
Delontae suffered a concussion, trauma to his body and spent two days in the hospital, his lawyer claims, and he continues to suffer headaches and seizures. The incident happened May 1, 2009, and the Fairfax school district said it would investigate, but spokesman Paul Regnier said Friday he could not comment on what that turned up, or on anything concerning pending litigation.
There are also other troubling allegations in the lawsuit, filed by his mother, Katrice Wingfield, counseled by lawyer Johnnie Louis Johnson III. Johnson declined to comment and would not allow the Wingfields to be interviewed.
The Wingfields allege that Charlotte J. Folan was driving bus 651 that afternoon in May, and that she drove past Delontae’s regular stop. They say Delontae repeatedly asked her to stop, and Folan refused.
An in-bus videotape apparently was available and shown to Katrice Wingfield. She filed an affidavit saying she watched the tape shortly after the incident, that her son respectfully asked Folan to stop the bus, and that Folan referred to her son with the “N” word and also used profanity while speaking to him.
Folan could not be located for comment.
In the affidavit, Katrice Wingfield then writes: “I have been advised that the Defendant Fairfax County Public Schools contends that the conversations I viewed and heard on the videotape ... are not now on the videotape. I, therefore, believe that the videotape must be obtained by a subpoena so that it can [be] analyzed by an expert to determine if it has been edited.”
In May 2009, the Wingfields were interviewed by WJLA-TV 7, and Katrice Wingfield told the reporter, “That’s all you keep hearing him saying, ‘Please.’ Begging her to stop the bus. The lady did not stop. Delontae got up, went to the exit and jumped out.”
A motorist called 911 after finding Delontae lying along the side of the road.