A Bucks County school van driver was suspended from her job after she allegedly left a 4-year-old boy with special needs alone in her vehicle for three hours on Tuesday.
Investigators say the unidentified woman picked up the boy from his home in Bensalem Tuesday morning along with four other children with special needs who attend the Friendship Circle Center on Emily Avenue in Bristol Township.
Officials say the driver dropped four of the children off at the center around 9:00 a.m. before driving the 10-passenger van back to her home. It wasn’t until after she returned to the school at noon to pick up the children that she realized the 4-year-old boy had never left the vehicle, according to investigators. Officials say the driver and staff members at Friendship Circle found the boy in the back row of the van.
The boy was immediately removed from the vehicle, given liquids and attended to by a nurse. He was then taken to Lower Bucks Hospital where he was treated for dehydration. He was later released Tuesday afternoon to his parents.
The boy was inside the van for approximately three hours, according to officials. At the time, temperatures reached the low 80’s in the area. Officials have not yet revealed how hot it was inside the van when the boy was found however.
The driver, who was employed by the Bucks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU), was suspended from her job without pay, pending termination proceedings. A spokesperson for the BCIU says the driver did not follow proper protocol during the incident.
“The safety of the children in our care is of the utmost concern and focus of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit,” said BCIU Strategic Services Director JoAnn Perotti in a released statement. “All BCIU drivers are instructed to check the vehicle after all students are dropped off at every location. The Intermediate Unit does not tolerate conduct inconsistent with this policy and our core values which stress safety for all children. All Bucks County Intermediate Unit employees must follow through on their critical responsibility; follow IU policy or face disciplinary action.”