FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A simple family outing to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree quickly turned into a nightmare for a New Jersey family over the weekend.
Susan Long of Freehold Township said the wheelchair lift on a NJ TRANSIT bus malfunctioned, stranding her 12-year-old disabled daughter in midair on Saturday morning.
“The side of the bus door was open and she was just stuck up in the air,” Long told 1010 WINS. “When we were trying to get near her the bus driver was like, ‘No, no, no leave her there,’ and my husband said, ‘We’re not leaving our daughter in the air.'”
To make matters worse, a backup bus that arrived an hour later also failed to work.
Long said at that point the family gave up on their holiday outing and went home.
“Just because Ally has Rett syndrome and just because she may be nonverbal doesn’t mean she doesn’t understand disappointment and the embarrassment of being stuck up there and people staring at her,” Long said. “It’s difficult.”
NJ TRANSIT issued an apology and pledged a full investigation.
“This is an unfortunate incident,” spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said. “It will be thoroughly investigated.”
Snyder said the agency has not ruled out either driver error or mechanical failure.
“These people need to be trained and they need to make sure their equipment works before they leave because at any given time there might be someone with a handicap, not just our daughter,” Long said.
The agency has been in contact with the family and is taking steps to make it right by them, Snyder said.