Governor signs Cameron Mayhew Act
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 1239 – the Cameron May-hew Act – into law on Monday according to House Rep. Dane Eagle of Cape Coral, who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Kathleen Passidomo of Naples.
The legislation stiffens the non-criminal penalties for drivers who fail to stop for a school bus and cause serious bodily injury or death. The House passed the bill 118-0 on April 28 and the Senate followed suit 28-6 a few days later.
Mayhew, 16, was attempting to cross Pine Ridge Road in Fort Myers to get on his school bus last year when he was struck by a vehicle that did not stop for the bus. The Fort Myers High School student died the next day from critical injuries suffered in the incident.
“No parent should have to endure the loss of a child, especially in such a heartbreaking manner as the Mayhew family lost Cameron,” Eagle said Tuesday. “In this case, it is clear our laws were insufficient to appropriately address the circumstances of this tragic incident. I am hopeful the stiffer penalties provided in this legislation, and by making them mandatory, we can prevent this from happening again.”
The Florida Highway Patrol initially cited the driver of the vehicle, Zachery Treinen, 23, of Cape Coral, for failing to stop for a stopped school bus. The citation was later amended to involving serious bodily injury or death, which carries a mandatory court date. Last November, Treinen pleaded no contest to failing to stop for a stopped school bus.
With adjudication withheld, his license was suspended for six months and Treinen was ordered to attend eight hours of aggressive driving traffic school and pay a $1,000 fine, plus court costs. He had no prior traffic or criminal record, according to the Lee County Clerk of Courts.
Eagle believed the penalties handed down in the case were “extremely minimal” and began looking into the issue after hearing from Cameron’s parents, Michael Mayhew and Sherry Stevens.
“I cannot express the pain and heartache we endure every day since my precious son, Cameron Mayhew, was taken from us,” Stevens said in a prepared statement. “My son lost his life because someone was running late for work and the time clock was more important than the warning lights on the school bus. This tragic event not only affected our family, it has affected our entire community. We need stricter penalties. Stricter penalties will save lives, and those lives belong to our children.”
In researching the issue, Eagle and his staff discovered that an average of 10,000 people every day in Florida run a school bus stop sign, whether from a lack of education or simply breaking the law.
In cases where the state decides not to press criminal charges, the Cameron Mayhew Act raises the penalties from a six-month driver’s license suspension and $1,000 fine to a one-year suspension and $1,500 fine.
“We increased those non-criminal penalties,” Eagle said.
The legislation also requires the driver to attend a victim’s impact panel, complete 120 hours of community service at a hospital or trauma center, and accumulate six points on their license.
The new law takes effect on July 1.