School Bus Driver Accused of Leaving Special Needs Student Alone on Bus

A school bus driver has been fired after being accused of leaving a 6-year-old special needs student alone on a bus.

Glastonbury police charged 34-year-old Guillermo Garcia, of East Hartford, with risk of injury to a minor and second-degree reckless endangerment.

Investigators believe the 6-year-old Wethersfield boy was alone for half an hour before someone realized what happened.

Garcia was a school bus driver for Access Transportation, which had a contract with the Wethersfield Board of Education for a summer school program, according to police.

Garcia was responsible for transporting students from Webb Elementary School to their homes. 

According to police, the 6-year-old boy was still on the bus asleep when Garcia returned to the bus yard in Glastonbury on June 29, a day when the weather was recorded as mostly sunny with a high near 83 degrees.

Authorities said Garcia apparently didn't realize the student was still on the bus when he parked and left.

"The mother contacted Wethersfield Police Department to report the child had not returned home. At the same time, an employee from Access Transportation had been walking by the bus and heard the child crying and found the child on the bus," Glastonbury Police Sgt. Corey Davis said.

"I was shocked. I was disgusted. I was mortified," Holly Annino, director for Access Transportation, said. 

Annino said she received a phone call telling her what happened.

She said Access Transportation mainly transports children with special needs, including the 6-year-old boy.

Annino said Garcia was immediately fired and that the company has a policy in place that requires drivers to check the vehicle multiple times, once right after a run is complete and again when they come back to the bus yard. She said surveillance video shows Garcia did not follow that protocol.

"We train every single month. We train these drivers. We have safety meetings every month, third Friday of every month. This is something that's not tolerated, and you don't get a second chance at something like this," Annino said.

Annino said they held an emergency safety meeting the morning after the incident and went over it with staff. She said they also reached out to the family and the Wethersfield Board of Education to apologize.

The Wethersfield Superintendent released a statement that reads: "The district's ESY program was housed at Webb Elementary School. The district still utilizes Access as a contracted transportation provider, however, the driver was terminated on the day in which the incident occurred. The district expects that all drivers from our contracted transportation providers follow protocol to ensure that all students are accounted for."

Garcia is due in court on Aug. 30 and his bond was set at $5,000. 

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