A special needs child age 13, was left on the school bus for the second time in Lake Wales, Florida after everyone else was off the bus. It has been reported the first time the teen was left on the bus he was sleeping during a school trip and left behind he climbed out of the emergency window in the center section of the bus, affidavits stated.Personal injury attorneys are likely waiting for the call from the family.
The other children riding the bus had been dropped off at Our Children’s Academy in Lake Wales, except for the special needs child, who hitchhiked to his home about 30 miles away in Davenport. There is an alarm or reminder system on the bus to keep special needs or other children from being left on the bus inadvertently at the last stop.
Was the Bus Company Negligent?
Bus driver Brown and the attendant Simmons both admitted they had allowed another child to deactivate the system. On the second incident, Simmons was seated behind the sleeping special needs student. The second occurrence happened a week later when the special needs student fell asleep again on the school bus and was left. He again had to break out of the bus, this time using the door and hitchhiked home once more. So most injury lawyers would argue that the bus company had notice and opportunity to cure the problem.
Since they failed to do so, they breached their special duty of care as a common carriers. Polk County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Carrie Hortsman said the affidavits state the special needs student was left on the bus on two different occasions. And this was after all of the other students were dropped off at Our Children’s Academy in Lake Wales. Each time the child was forced to open the emergency exit to get off of the bus. In both instances, the bus driver and attendant admitted to deactivating the child reminder system on the bus.
Did the Drivers Fail to Check for Kids?
Hortsman continued saying the first instance of the boy being left on the school bus happened March 2. And this was with Simmons sitting behind the child while he was sleeping. Neither Simmons the attendant or Brown the bus driver checked to ensure the bus was emptied when Brown drove the bus to Mobley Street to park the bus. The student awoke about 15 minutes later.
The second incident happened on March 8th, when the special needs child fell asleep again in his seat. And he was left on the bus with the child reminder activation system deactivated. The child woke a second time to a parked bus on Mobley Street in Lake Wales. According to reports bus driver for the Polk County school, Gale Brown age 51, and attendant Gwendolyn Simmons age 57 face charges after being arrested on two counts of negligent child abuse. Both women were jailed in the Polk County Jail.
According to the Polk County School Board statement, the entire incident was avoidable. Also, we are committed to keeping children safe they said. They went on to say the school buses are equipped with the latest technology. They claim this will ensure no children are left behind. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said there is no excuse for the neglect of a child in the case of the 13-year-old special needs student.
The sheriff has since released video of Brown and Simmons exiting the bus on both occasions. It shows Brown and Simmons di so without checking for any students left on the bus. Then it shows a teen awaking and escaping through the emergency window.