Driver, Monitor Charged After Leaving Teen With Autism On Bus Overnight, Police Say

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A man and woman are in custody after allegedly leaving a 16-year-old boy with autism on a school bus overnight.

Phillip Anderson, who can barely speak, was reported missing by his mother shortly after midnight Saturday when he wasn’t dropped off after an event in New Rochelle on Friday evening, according to authorities.

His mother, Cynthia Anderson, told CBS2’s Jessica Borg she kept thinking, “I hope he’s OK and I hope he’s safe.”

“I didn’t get no sleep, and I stayed up all night,” she told 1010 WINS’ Samantha Liebman.

Phillip was supposed to be on his way home from the Doyle Center, which his family said has a recreation program for teenagers with autism that he’s enjoyed since January. 

Police searched the surrounding area using dogs and helicopters and interviewed the bus monitor, Iakua Haywood, of New Rochelle, who allegedly said she personally saw the child exit the bus and enter his home.

After an unsuccessful search, detectives managed to contact the bus company’s manager who determined via GPS that the bus had not stopped at the teen’s residence as Haywood had claimed.

The manager then went to the company’s garage in Mt. Vernon where he found Phillip shortly before 8 a.m. still on the bus in question. He was returned to his mother in good health.

“I know he must have been cold, and I was so angry,” Phillip’s caretaker, Vinnie Hardee, said.

Hardee told Borg she thinks Phillip fell asleep on the bus and Haywood failed to make sure the bus was empty, despite signs that say to do so.

Hardee also told Liebman she thinks law enforcement could have found him sooner.

“I told them if they go to the bus, they probably will find him,” she said.

teen with autism bus1 Driver, Monitor Charged After Leaving Teen With Autism On Bus Overnight, Police Say

Haywood was interviewed again, along with the bus driver — identified as Laikhraj Prashad Persaud of the Bronx. Authorities determined that numerous safety procedures had been violated, putting the teen in “substantial risk of harm and delaying and misdirecting the search efforts.”

“They were very careless,” Cynthia said, adding that she was “very relieved” to have her son home safe.

Haywood and Prashad Persaud have both been charged with second degree reckless endangerment and second degree endangering the welfare of a child.

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