NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The family of a young autistic boy in Brooklyn is demanding answers after their son’s grueling hours-long school bus ride home.
Levi Vidal, 3, was happy to be home with his mom in Bergen Beach after spending five hours Friday and four hours earlier Monday riding on his special needs bus.
“He’s autistic, so he can’t tell me if he was thirsty or that he had to go to the bathroom or that he was hungry,” the boy’s mother, Serena Vidal, told CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis on Monday night.
Young Levi has gotten out of school at 2:20 p.m. and home at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.. on those two days, respectively. His mom said this is more than a new school year mix-up.
“It was the worst feeling of my life and I never, ever want to feel that again,” Serena Vidal said.
The boy’s mother said the problem is a torturous and gridlocked 14-mile bus route taking him from the prestigious Gramercy School in Midtown, looping around the East Side and then to Lower Manhattan to Chinatown and then clear across Brooklyn to Bergen Beach.
Despite the fact the much faster Belt Parkway is nearby, it is off-limits to trucks and buses.
“Brooklyn’s huge, they can’t take every local street necessary. I don’t know what they’re doing, but they’re doing it all wrong,” Serena Vidal said.
“It was just horrible, it was devastating. God, we just thought the worst, we thought God forbid he was missing,” the boy’s sister, Kayla Vidal, said.
Levi’s aunt was equally upset. She often meets him at the bus and said Friday’s five-hour trip made her sick.
“We are looking into this. We design our bus routes to be as efficient as possible, and when informed of longer routes, make adjustments,” the Department of Education said in a statement.
Of the 140,000 students New York City buses every day, 60,000 of them are special needs kids who always have a bus attendant on board.
Levi’s worried mom said she wants a reasonable ride home for her son, an hour to an hour and a half at most.
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