SOMERSET, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A Somerset, N.J. mother and father were furious Wednesday, after they said their 3-year-old special needs son was left alone in freezing temperatures for hours.
As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, Adam Akturk – who is mostly nonverbal – was kept home Wednesday after a driver left him alone on a school bus for more than five hours.
“I’m very angry about it,” said the boy’s mother, Mishiloh Akturk. “He could have killed my child.”
It was Tuesday afternoon in Somerset, when the child, who boarded a school bus at 8 a.m., was found still on the bus, strapped in his seat, more than five hours later. His mother got a phone call from the school.
“We found him on bus,” Mishiloh Akturk said. “He was not in school today. He’s been sitting on bus all day by himself.”
Adam’s parents were steamed that no one from the school informed them that their son was a no-show, and that he was overlooked when the driver got off the bus. Mercy Transportation, which operates busses for the Franklin Township School District, immediately terminated the part-time driver.
The bus is equipped with a child reminder system. When the ignition is turned off, a buzzer sounds and the driver must then deactivate the alarm.
“The driver must walk all the way to the back of the bus and open the back emergency door,” said bus company manager Lahoucine Elnajeoub. “Instead, he went outside and opened the door from the outside.”
The high temperature on Tuesday was around 18 degrees. The Akturks said it was fortunate their son was properly dressed for the cold.
“I had him in several layers, with hat, and gloves, and his puffy jacket on, because it was such a cold day,” Mishiloh Akturk said.
Adam’s parents have not yet decided if their son will be going back to school on the school bus.
The school district has launched an investigation into why the student’s absence was not followed up with a call to his parents.
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