IPSWICH (CBS) – A fill-in bus driver for the Ipswich school department is out of work today, and he will stay out of work if the principal at the Paul F. Doyon Memorial School has his way.
After school on Wednesday, the substitute driver was on his route when he saw what he thought was a teenager getting beaten up by an adult on the side of the road.
WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports
The un-named driver pulled over on Washington Street, turned off the bus and got out to try to intervene in what he thought was a fight. In doing so, he left all of the kids on the bus alone. The children ranged from kindergarten students to those in fifth grade. The incident happened on the sidewalk, so the driver was never very far from the bus.
The driver is employed by Salter Transportation, the school department’s bus contractor. Salter did not comment today.
It turns out, it was all a misunderstanding and bad timing. Moments before the bus driver saw the two men struggle, the 16 year old boy involved had thrown a large rock at a truck belonging to Charles Hall. According to Hall, the boy became erratic and started making threats. Ipswich police confirm these events.
“He started to run away,” explained Hall of the bizarre incident. “I chased after him, just around the corner, tackled him to the ground to make sure he wouldn’t leave the scene and I said, ‘call the police.'”
This was the scene the driver encountered: a young man pinned to the sidewalk by an adult.
“He apparently wanted to give help, but there was no help to be given. He made a bad choice to stop,” said Hall.
Principal Dave Archambault agrees. In a letter sent home to parents and given to WBZ-TV, Archambault wrote,
“The substitute driver made a grave decision and stopped the bus to help protect the teen. He actually turned off the bus, and then he got off the bus to help. That decision should never have been made. He should have continued away from the scene and used his radio to call for help.
I have spoken to Salter Transportation and expressed my outrage at the driver’s decision. He put our children in harm’s way, and that cannot be tolerated…
As the person you entrust with your child’s safety daily, I apologize sincerely for this incident. I have inquired with Salter Transportation as to the training for drivers, and I will finish that inquiry tomorrow.”
Parents who spoke with WBZ about the incident appreciated both sides of the story. Some said the driver was right to stop, others felt he should have worried more about the children on his bus.