Ipswich School Bus Driver Stops To Break Up Fight, Loses Job

By Jim Armstrong

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.

  • bill

    AMAZING!!…. that anyone would think the bus driver made a bad decision …..Hope he’d do the same thing if one of my family or friends were in trouble on the sidewalk.
    Need MORE people like this!

  • Jewelsmom

    The only thing that principal did was tell his bus drivers that if he or she happened to spot a child on the side of the road being stabbed by someone, to look straight ahed and keep on going. Too bad about the child!! I’m so glad I don’t live in Ipswich and my children don’t go to your schools.

  • Woodsie

    I hope the next time it’s Mr Archambault.

    No good deed goes unpunished, pathetic what we’ve become.
    In another day the driver would have been praised, too much PC, no common sense anymore.

  • Vera Carroll

    The principal should be the one losing his job

  • Aparent

    i agree to much pc what example is that for children to drive buy ignoring some one in trouble, principle is just trying to cover his butt in case some one complains ,weak

  • Belinda

    I think the principal acted very appropriately. That situation was volatile and put an entire busload of kids in harm’s way. My understanding from an eyewitness is at one point the teen broke toward the bus and was tackled by police then cuffed right in front of the kids eyes.
    While I agree the bus driver should have done something, I wonder why he or she didn’t use the radio to ask for help? As a parent, I am alarmed that a driver would basically abandon a busload of kids. What if one of those men had a knife or gun? We are fortunate that this situation didn’t end in tragedy. Kudos to the principal for standing up for the safety of our children.

  • Charlene

    No, I do have to say I was a Dispatcher in Northbridge and We had an issue with a student left on the Bus, This was sooo wrong on the drivers part for not checking the Bus!!But I as the dispatcher had to take the fall along with the driver, to accomadate the school being at fault for not.All i did was ask why the school didnt take attendance as the bus load of special needs children get off the Bus & I was doomed from the question that I had asked!! I was told that I had to protect the Bus Company and the school Administration Due to the fact that the Contract was up?? So I took the fall for someone elses actions! The news does not tell it all!! This driver was wrong to have left the seat and should have gotten a suspension but not to be fired!! Im sure he had to so it would make the bus comany look like they did their job!!And the upcoming contract would not be harmed!! The driver was trying to help a student in his/her town and They need to recognize that!! (What if the 16 yr old had been beaten to death? Then the driver would have gotten in trouble for ignoring a situation as well!!)The teachers leave their classrooms every day to run to the office ect,But ya never hear that on the news!!!!!!! Bus Drivers always get a bad wrap in yet they transport your children to and from school on a daily basis,Rain snow sleet ect!! They need to be appreciated!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Susan M

    I agree that he should not have left a bus full of young kids unsupervised. They were his primary responsibility. I think he should have stopped the bus in a safe place and called for help. He could also have video taped the incident for evidence.

    I wonder though if it had ended up that the 16 year old was actually in real trouble, if they would have fired the driver. I doubt it.

    I don’t know that he should lose his job though. That seems extreme.

  • B

    I Hope someone gives this guy a job! I bet all those kids on the bus are proud of him….talk about a real life role model!

  • charlene

    Im sorry to say the majority of Bus drivers are a good role model as I had 90 percecnt that were the best!! Its is the other 10 percent that we hear about!!Why cab we not hear the good things they do when the parent is not home to get there child???

  • Jeff D.

    I have worked in the school transportation industry for over 20 years now and I have seen it all. Should the driver have left the bus? That is a definate no no. Should he have been fired? no he shouldn’t have been. A suspension and a refresher on conduct would have been more appropiate. I commend his actions to intervine in a situation that he clearly thought was an attack on a child. If it had been for real, a phone call to the police would have taken to much time and the outcome could have been tragic.
    School bus drivers are unsung hero’s They transport our children in all sorts of bad weather to and from school safely everyday. They take more abuse from parents, teachers and especially road rage in one week than any of you would get in a year. Personally, I’d cut the guy a break. He put his job and life on the line to try to protect a child. I’d want him to be my childs bus driver anytime.

    • Thomas D

      I agree with Jeff. He shouldn’t have been fired. We have become a pathetic “cry baby” society where your always wrong. This man reacted as many of us would. He shouldn’t have left the bus but I know he wasn’t forgetting about the children because he turned off the bus engine and may have had the keys in his hand. Also we don’t know how far from the bus he was. He may have been standing in front of the door. If that was my child being strong-armed by an adult I would be glad the bus driver stopped. We are supposed to protect our children. A yell out from the door or open window to the man holding down the child telling him the police is on the way would have been the best response. i’m sure the kids on the bus were proud of their driver and may have known this kid . Bottom line- training may prevent this driver from making this mistake again but to fire him is rediculous. This man was just following his instincts.

  • Belinda

    It looks like the fellow is not even fired – he’s just not driving in Ipswich anymore…could wbz trying to build an audience? Here’s another view of this same story:

  • Woodsie

    He’s better off not driving the little spoiled brats in Ipswich anyway….

    • blackbear1

      Woodsie, that was bad. Real bad!!

  • blackbear1

    Anyone with an ounce of educational experience or instincts knows that you cannot leave children unattended. The drver has radio,phone,nextel,etc. He overreacted incorrectly. He works for a contracted service and could perhaps violate the terms of the contract. However, don’t fire him!! Train, review, reassign!! I will admit, the tone of the Principal was quite strong and edgy.

  • Denise

    I give the guy credit for getting involved! Most people don’t care if it doesn’t effect them anymore. You use to know your neighbors – if they saw you doing something they gave you hell and when you got home you got it worse from your own parents! But today all the little angels – are bubblewrapped – and it’s never their fault!

    Finally some kids get to see what a real adult is suppose to do – Step up and make sure everything is on the up and up! YES kids the ostriches of the world live in la la land…

  • SH

    the kids on the bus were between 5 and 10 yrs old. if it was a bus of Middle or High School kids — maybe things would be diferent ???

  • Pru

    What’s missing in this story is the info on the people at the garage. A registered sex offender lived there up until recently, but still hangs out there. The “activity” at the garage has always been rumored to be other than car repair. I am a driver and I know and understand the protocol , but I also have a son the same age. What would I want someone to do for him in the same situation? There is always more to the story that a one minute clip.

  • Sickened in Ipswich

    Shame on the media for blowing this story out of proportion. The driver NEVER left the door of the bus. How do I know this…because I watched the whole thing. Those kids where never abandoned or put in harms way. What should he have done morally?? Driven by like the other 20 cars did?? What have we come too? If the Tsunami happened 2 days ago we would have never even heard about this. Get a REAL story!!!

    • Thomas D

      Well said. You just answered two of my questions. I wondered if the driver ever left the door and how many ignorant people just drove by.

  • IpswichMom

    Amazing! It seems the only people with a problem of how this was handled are those who don’t live in Ipswich, don’t have children in the schools there, and think it’s okay for someone to walk away from their job and ignore their responsibility to a schoolbus of children – what is THAT saying about today’s work ethic and society? And have you all called Salter to demand his job back… oh wait, he didn’t lose his job. We just don’t want him near our kids. The principal was absolutely right to react the way he did, and we’re happy he’s in charge. The driver had a way to call for assistance, and chose NOT to use it. BTW, all that Pru posted is true – a registered sex offender lived there and still hangs out there. So what if he’d gotten on the bus? What if there’d been a gun or other weapon? Buses in other states with kids onboard have been hit by bullets. Or the attempted hijacking of a bus by a mentally ill man two years ago in Atlanta. But according to most of the posts here, we should be more worried about the driver. It’s time WBZ and the other stations move on to some real news, and stop blowing this out of proportion – the situation has been handled to the satisfaction of the parents of the children on the bus. And our opinions are truly the only ones that matter in this case.

  • http://yahoo nikki

    that is freeken rude I’m kind glade he lost his job but it sucks for him now people think of him as a bad person and if I waz that little girl I would of used all my strenth to kick his ass just sayin !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

  • http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/03/17/ipswich-bus-driver-defends-decision-to-leave-bus/ Ipswich Bus Driver Defends Decision To Leave Bus « CBS Boston

    […] had pulled over his bus on Washington Street after seeing a teen being held down by a man. What Smith actually saw was Charlie Hall subduing a […]

  • http://baystateconservativenews.com/2011/03/11/fri-03112011/ FRI. 03/11/2011 | Bay State Conservative News

    […] CBS Boston: Ipswich school bus driver stops to break up fight, loses job – Do the right thing, and you’re punished. Such is life in the P.C. 21st Century America. […]

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