Fayetteville Boy Left Alone On Hot School Bus
Posted September 2, 2003
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A 4-year-old autistic boy was left behind on a school bus in Fayetteville and his mother is looking for answers.
Dina Tahaney said she was shocked to learn that on Aug. 22 when the temperature approached 90 degrees, 4-year-old Ryan never got off his special-needs bus to attend prekindergarten. After dropping off children at Murray Elementary School at Fort Bragg, the driver accidentally took Ryan to the bus yard and left.
Tahaney said her son, who has autism, fell asleep on a seat in the middle of the bus. She said her son woke up, walked off the bus and wandered around the parking lot across the street. Ryan ended up in a colonel's office.
"He could have died on that bus. Anything could have happened with the heat, not to mention he could have been hit by a car," Tahaney said.
Tahaney said she does not blame her son's school or Fort Bragg, but the contractor who runs the bus line.
"We entrust the lives of our children in their hands every day and their response is 'we don't know how this happened,'" she said.
Tahaney said she is also upset the driver and aide were suspended for a few days then transferred to a route with older children.
"Special-needs children require a lot of attention and attention to detail. That was what was lacking and so we are just going to have to make sure we do better in the future," Fort Bragg spokesman Lt. Col. Billy Buckner said.
Fort Bragg officials said they are now requiring schools to have rosters for every bus and the bus line to have checklists.
The buses are operated by Bragg Lines Inc. The company is owned by Diane Wheatley, a member of the Cumberland County School Board, and her husband. WRAL was told Wheatley and her husband are out of town and not available for comment.