Tuesday, April 14, 2009
4-year-old boy with autism left on bus; driver charged
By Sarah Schulte - ABC7 News
A suburban school bus driver has been charged after she allegedly left a 4-year-old boy with autism on a bus for an hour while she went shopping.
The driver is now charged with endangering the life of a child.
Marc Martin and Lisa Zago-Martin are driving their son to and from school rather than allow the 4-year-old autistic child to go on a school after he was left on a school bus for more than an hour last week.
Minutes after he was supposed to be at Thomas Jefferson School, 8200 W. Greendale Ave. in Niles. Lisa got a phone call that he was missing.
"The nightmare phone call we all dread. I was horrified, shaking," said Lisa.
"My secretary said it was the first time in 15 years she'd ever heard me scream," said Marc.
Almost an hour later, Marc was found safe inside the unattended bus in Glenview. Police say the 60-year-old driver was shopping inside this party store. She has been charged with child endangerment.
Each bus is equipped with an alarm that can only be deactivated by walking to the back and turning it off. They said the alarm was working but what wasn't working was the two-way radio and the driver wasn't answering her cell phone.
"To us it's unconscionable that a school bus could have no working radio system," said Marc.
The bus only had eight seats and the family has a hard time believing the driver didn't know Marc was on the bus.
"Marc's very verbal. I know she knew he was on that bus," said Lisa.
Knight was immediately fired from the bus company for violating procedures. The company said Knight had worked for them for the past five years and was an excellent driver until last week.
The Martins are going to be pushing for stronger state laws that make it mandatory for buses to be equipped with two-way working radios, and video system.
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