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Queens Chronicle

School children stuck on the bus

Special needs students spend five hours waiting for accident report

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Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:42 am, Thu Jul 11, 2013.

Last week, Lucas Kimmel, a 12-year-old boy with autism, was riding the bus home from school, as usual.

The yellow bus, filled with seven special needs children, trundled down Metropolitan Avenue.

As it neared 74th Avenue, the bus made contact with another car.

No one was injured. It was a small fender-bender with minimal damage but the driver was required to wait for a police officer to fill out an accident report.

“At around 3:30 p.m., the bus company called 911 and they were told that help was on the way,” Rita Kimmel, Lucas’ mother, who is from Oakland Gardens said.

An hour later, no one had come.

The company, Great Transportation, called 911 again at 5:18 p.m. and again, they were told that help was on the way.

By 6:16 p.m., there was still no sign of relief. Again, 911 was called.

“This time they told the company to call the precinct,” Kimmel said. “So they called the 112th Precinct and explained the situation.”

After three 911 calls and a phone call to the precinct, an officer finally arrived to fill out a report, five hours after the accident.

“I don’t understand what went wrong because each time they called, they identified themselves as a bus company and they explained the situation and each time nothing was done,” Kimmel said. “I’m holding 911 responsible because, from what I understand, the bus has to stay on the scene but you have emotionally fragile children on the bus who have a lot of anxiety, so it’s traumatic for them.”

Kimmel said the bus company did the best they could and provided as much information as possible.

“They called every parent to let them know what was happening,” she said. “They did a good job.”

Had Lucas’ father not been able to pick him up from the accident scene, the pre-teen would not have gotten home until 9:30 p.m.

“I wrote a letter of complaint to the captain of the precinct and I haven’t heard back. “I also wrote Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), my child’s school, the bus company, Bill de Blasio and a few other people and I haven’t heard back from anyone.”

With the city’s 911 system stalling several times over the past few weeks, Kimmel is confident that there was a system error.

The 112th Precinct referred the Chronicle to NYPD press office as they are not permitted to comment on these matters. The NYPD has not come to any conclusion as to what happened.

The FDNY, which is only involved when an injury is sustained or if they are specifically requested, said all of the operators the bus company spoke with were police operators.

After the Chronicle reached out to Weprin, the councilman said he sympathized with Kimmel.

“I really feel for Ms. Kimmel and her son,” he said. “We want to make sure people are treated with respect and my office is looking into the situation now.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Bayside) wrote back to Kimmel, saying Weprin would be the person to handle the issue.

“When I posted on my facebook page and on the parent support Facebook page, I got a lot of responses back from parents who had the same thing happen to them,” Kimmel said. “I know there’s been issues going on with 911 and I feel that this incident was a result of that.”

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1 comment:

  • ritajkim posted at 9:57 am on Wed, Jul 10, 2013.

    ritajkim Posts: 0

    Thanks for the great article, Tess. I hope this brings change to how school transportation accidents are handled in the future. Two inaccuracies... Lucas does not have autism but is learning disabled. Also the bus company is Hoyt Transportation.[beam]