A bus driver and matron were both in handcuffs Monday after they left a five-year-old mentally handicapped child in a locked, freezing-cold bus for nearly an hour and a half, area police said.
Little Iman Mirza, a resident of Plumb Beach, was supposed to be dropped off at P.S. 255 on East 17th Street near Avenue R, where she attends special education classes, but apparently no one ever checked to see if she got off the bus.
According to published reports, Iman is mute and couldn’t call out for help. She also has a mind of a one-year-old, her father, Junaid Mirza, told reporters.
“Imagine in this freezing cold a five-year-old kid in the bus by herself for an hour,” Mirza said. “Not acceptable.”
Mirza’s parents put her on the bus at 7:40 a.m., according to officials. It wasn’t until 9 a.m. when someone spotted her on the locked bus while it was parked on Avenue X in Sheepshead Bay.
After making his run, bus driver Phillip Vallone, 78, a resident of Staten Island, had parked the bus there so he and the matron could get some breakfast, leaving the child in the 30 degree weather, according to published reports.
Vallone’s wife, who had come to join the bus driver for breakfast, was the one who realized the blunder, officials said. The bus driver immediately called the school and admitted his mistake.
Mirza was brought back to the school and looked over by paramedics.Junaid said that her daughter suffered a fever and seemed to suffer no other ill effects from her impromptu road trip.
Cops took Vallone into custody, charging them with endangering the welfare of a child. The matron, identified as 66-year-old Madeline Shedd of East 17th Street, was charged with failure to exercise control of a minor, a misdemeanor.
Both were suspended pending the outcome of this case, Department of Education officials said.
Employees for the Daily Bus Company, where they worked, did not speak to reporters about their arrest.