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Police: Bus Driver Left Special Needs Children Alone On Bus With Windows Up, No Air Conditioning

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VERNON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A Sussex County, New Jersey school bus driver may be facing criminal charges after two young special needs children were reported to have spent close to an hour abandoned inside a hot bus.

And as CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported, there were only three children on the bus to begin with.

“This is complete neglect in my opinion; unacceptable and incomprehensible,” said Vernon Township Schools Superintendent Charles Maranzano.

Maranzano told Langford the moment a panicked parent called wondering where his child was, the school board called Macnova, the bus company contracted to transport summer program students, and when they couldn’t reach the company, they called police.

“Two marked police units went out and they did actually encounter a bus and it actually was the bus company owner in a similar bus,” said Vernon Township Police Det. Sean Talk.

Police said they found the right bus outside the home of the bus company owner. The children, ages 7 and 9, had been trapped inside the bus for more than 45 minutes with the windows up and no air conditioning, Langford reported.

The children were reported to have been dehydrated, but otherwise physically OK.

“When we asked the bus company to explain, they said the bus driver had an emergency and the children were on an air-conditioned bus, they were attended to by an adult, and we found out very quickly that was not the case,” said Maranzano. “We’re reviewing that along with the prosecutor’s office to determine if there’s going to be charges.”

Charges that may include endangering the welfare of a child and endangering the welfare of an incompetent person, Langford reported.

“How could you miss that, because you go back and forth. You have to go backwards and look to make sure the kids are all out of the bus,” said neighbor Rhea Kielty.

There was no answer at the home of the bus company owner, which has been dismissed by the school district as possible criminal charges loom.

Investigators are reviewing videotape from inside the bus in question.

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