AASD student left on bus; driver fired

Logan Township police are investigating whether there is any culpability on the part of a bus driver who parked a bus in the garage Tuesday morning with an Altoona Area student still inside instead of at school.

“A fourth-grader was located on a bus at the garages located along Greenwood Road. He was found by another employee (of Altoona Student Transportation Inc.). We are trying to determine what occurred there,” Logan Township Police Chief Tim Mercer said.

“He was on the bus, transported to his elementary school and, for an unknown reason, he did not get off the bus, unbeknownst to the driver. The bus driver returned to the garage and backed the bus into the facility on Greenwood Road. And after spending several hours on the bus by himself, the child exited the bus to use the restroom and was found by another employee,” Mercer said.

Mercer said police are continuing interviews of the bus driver and the employee who found the child, and officers are also attempting to interview the child with his or her guardians to find whether the child purposely stayed on the bus or whether the child fell asleep riding to school.

Mercer said once a report is complete, police will submit findings to the district attorney on whether there are criminal charges to be filed.

The driver has been fired, according to a statement attributed to Ron Ferek, general manager for Altoona Student Trans­portation Inc.

“We are very disappointed that the driver did not follow the very clear company policy and proper procedures for checking the bus. We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to incidents like this, and the driver has been terminated,” the statement read. “Our drivers and monitors in Altoona have served the community with safe transportation for years, and this is not a representation of the great job our folks do each day. We take matters like this very seriously since the safety of our passengers is our top priority.”

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.