Update: Driver of Bus Fired After Investigation
The driver that left the five-year old Cambridge child on the bus last week, has been fired.
Jim Misercola of Eastern Bus Company said that as of Tuesday morning, the driver had been terminated. The driver, who has remained unidentified, has been working with the company for 4 years. Misercola stated that he had never had any problems with the driver before.
Jim Maloney of Cambridge Public Schools said that regardless of any punishment, the driver will not be allowed back on city school routes. He also said school officials are inquiring whether a device used to confirm post-trip inspection installed on the bus was working. The device requires drivers to walk to the back of the bus and manually press a button to shut the system off. If it is not shut off, the bus horn sounds and the lights flash until the button is pressed.
According to Misercola, the device is not required by law but was installed on the bus the child was on. He said that despite whether or not the device is operating, drivers are required by law to inspect their buses after their final stop, and this driver inherently failed to do so.
A five-year old spent several hours locked on a Massachusetts school bus Thursday afternoon, when the driver failed to perform a walk-through after finishing the route.
Tara Dendy of Cambridge said she went to pick up her son Reign on Thursday, March 11, from his after-school program at the Margaret Fuller House around 5:45 p.m., only to find he did not get off the bus.
“They told me he never showed up, and I just closed my eyes,” Dendy said. “I said I have to find out where my child is.”
Dendy frantically called the police, who confirmed with school officials that the boy had in fact gotten on the bus. Police immediately rushed to the bus yard and found the little boy cold, crying, and shaking on the school bus. Apparently Reign had fallen asleep during the ride home. The driver had not checked to see if anyone was still on the bus when she finished the route at 3:40 p.m.
According to Cambridge Public Schools chief operating officer Jim Maloney, the School Department as well as state law, requires drivers to perform “sweeps” before getting off the bus at the last stop. Maloney called the incident “completely unacceptable,” and said he and other school officials will be working with Eastern Bus Company Inc., who is contracted with CPS for two more years, to ensure that this type of incident never happens again.
Jim Mascola, the director of employee relations at Eastern Bus said officials have launched an investigation and are taking the incident “very seriously.” He said that drivers are trained to perform final sweeps so that children do not get left behind. The driver of the bus has since been placed on leave and will no longer be allowed to work in Cambridge.
Dendy filed a child negligence complaint on Monday with the Department of Human services against Eastern Bus Company, citing that firing the driver is not enough to guarantee this wouldn’t happen to another child.
“I just want to make sure that it doesn’t happen to the next kid or the next mother,” Dendy said. “It may not seem like much, but one minute of thinking your child is gone is one too many.”
School bus operators hold a certain duty of public trust. Each and every day thousands of parents put their children on Massachusetts school buses with the expectation that the bus will be operated in a safe manner and that their children will always be safely accounted for. That did not happen last Thursday. Having a child unaccounted only once, is one time too many.
At the law offices of Altman & Altman, we have handled numerous negligence claims against bus companies throughout the Commonwealth, from school buses, charter buses, Fung Wah buses, to MBTA buses. If you believe you are a victim of negligent behavior, from lack of safety measures, unsafe driving, unsafe premises, or any other type of negligence, give one of our experienced lawyers a call for a free case consultation.