CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The Chesterfield County Police Department has determined that a Chesterfield County school bus struck a parked vehicle after the county denied responsibility.
Police said it happened on Country Spring Lane the afternoon of Sept. 18 while Gabby Sergi, was working as an autism therapist with a client inside a home on that street.
“I heard my client’s mom yell and say, ‘Gabby a bus hit you!’" Sergi said.
“I happen to come out the playroom and I was looking out the window and thinking look at this big bus coming down the street,” a witness said. “It was backing up and I said, 'Oh, it’s gonna back up into the neighbor's yard and turn around.' Then I saw Gabby’s car shake and I was like, 'I think the bus just hit your car!'”
Sergi immediately ran outside as Chesterfield County school bus 211 was pulling off.
“I saw the bus leaving and that’s when I went to look at the back of my car not really believing it yet and that’s when I saw the dent on my car,” said Sergi.
“My neighbor across the street came over [and] he was telling her, 'The bus hit your car and she just drove away,'” the witness said. “It was bad.”
“I decided to call the cops and make a claim that the bus left and then it finally came back after that after the cops called Chesterfield County and they came back with the bus and the transport lady,” Sergi said.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, CBS 6 Problem Solvers were denied the 911 call citing such records are exempt from disclosure because they relate to a criminal investigation or prosecution.
However, the CBS 6 Problem Solvers obtained the CAD record from Gabby’s 911 call.
Incident notes show that police were dispatched for a hit and run at 4:36, but the Chesterfield County School Board Assistant Director of Transportation, who was on scene, canceled the police response advising she would call police the following day if needed after reviewing video footage from the bus.
A Chesterfield Police spokesperson said, the Chesterfield School Board Assistant Director of Transportation did not have the authority to do that and that a police officer should have responded. They said they are taking steps to ensure this does not happen again.
“You can hear it in the video and you have cops from Chesterfield County stating that this was a crash,” said Sergi.
Sergi said Chesterfield County Police told her they heard bus 211 hit her car while reviewing video footage from the bus from the afternoon of September 18.
However, that's not what Gabby was told after the accident when a representative from Chesterfield County Risk Management called the Sergis to inform them they were denying the claim.
“The one piece I wanted to look at were the measurements of the bus the bumper related to you car,” said a Chesterfield County Risk Management representative in a voicemail.
“Based on that evidence, and the video, we don’t believe that our vehicle caused the damage to your vehicle. The witness accounts did not make sense based on how the evidence presented itself,” he added.
At that point, Gabby was responsible for $1,109.50 worth of damage to her bumper.
“They made me feel like I was lying or my witnesses were lying and I trust my witnesses and I know that dent was not in my car when I first parked there that day,” said Sergi.
“The preponderance of the evidence indicates the bus did strike the car, but the bus driver was unaware of the collision,” said Chesterfield County Police spokesperson Liz Caroon. “The investigation indicates there was minimal contact between the bus and the vehicle. As the investigation does not indicate a hit-and-run occurred, the driver will not be charged. We have shared the results of our investigation with School Board transportation.”
Risk Management placed another call to the Sergis that the family shared with the CBS 6 Problem Solvers.
“Risk management would like to -- in good faith -- settle this,” said a Chesterfield County Risk Management representative in a conversation with Gabby’s father Sergio Sergi. “We are offering you the amount of the estimate. We're also adding another $100 for rental.”
The county extended an offer to settle the claim following the police department's call to the school board`s transportation department on its findings, but the Sergis said despite the police ruling, they believe the county fell short.
“I think we still maintain our original position, but I do think we are willing to offer you to go ahead and settle this,” the representative explained to Sergio.
“You're still not admitting any guilt at all in this, that's what you're saying?” Sergio replied.
“We're maintaining our original disposition, yes,” the representative replied over the phone.
“That the bus did not hit?” replied Sergio.
“My position is to make you an offer and not re-discuss the claim,” the representative responded.
“They're still denying, they're just doing it because they feel like they should,” Sergi said. “It just made me very disappointed, because I just moved here, so I'm just kind of like I don't know what to expect from Chesterfield anymore.”
Chesterfield County spokesperson Teresa Bonifas provided the following statement to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers:
“After receiving the investigation report back from Chesterfield Police, risk management is in contact with the owner of the vehicle to repair the damage to the car," Bonifas wrote. "We are sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused, and the county is committed to working with the owner to reach a mutual agreement.”
The Sergis said they are getting their own estimate and will be back in touch with the county.
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