SOMERSET (CBS) – The driver of a school van for physically challenged kids has been fired after she went home and left a legally blind Somerset boy asleep in her parked van. The incident happened Monday afternoon.
That’s when Rana Lucich got a call from her son’s daycare saying five-year-old Tristan hadn’t been dropped off by the van that normally brings him from preschool.
An hour of panic followed, capped by a phone call from the boss at Fisher Bus, Inc. – the transport company.
“And I said, ‘Please tell me that you did not leave my son in the van,’” says Lucich.
But that’s exactly what had happened. A sweaty Tristan was found asleep in the van on the company lot where the driver had parked it – and gone home.
The 60-year-old van driver told police she didn’t see the boy at a glance, because he was slumped over on his seat. But she’s been fired, and cited for failing to inspect the van after her trip as required.
“It’s endless — the amount of things that could have happened to him that day,” says Lucich. “I’m grateful that they didn’t but I can’t stop playing in mind that they could have.”
Indeed, the blind boy could have woke up and wandered out into the street. Or, suffered the same fate as a New Jersey toddler, who perished in a car that very afternoon.
“In New Jersey the same, exact day,” says Lucich, “there was a little girl who died in a hot car.”
Both the the transport company and the school superintendent have apologized, but Tristan’s Mom still wonders how the driver could overlook her son, who was one of only three kids in the van.
“There’s bus drivers who have 30 kids on their buses,” says Lucich, “and they get those kids everywhere they have to go. Then they search their bus to make sure no one’s on it.”
Rana Lucich would like new rules mandating the vans be double-checked – by a supervisor.
Fisher Bus, Inc. told her it was their first such incident – ever.
“They’d never had an incident in 50 years,” says Lucich. “That’s amazing. But now they did.”
And in the two days since, Tristan has told Mom that he’d rather not take the van.