On Monday morning, the kid, who uses a wheelchair, was being taken on a school bus to an extended school year program at a local school in Franklin Township when she fell unconscious, according to prosecutors.
During the journey, “a series of bumps in the road caused the 6-year-old to slump in her wheelchair seat, causing the 4-point harness that secured her to the chair to become tight around her neck, eventually blocking her airway,” according to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office in a statement on Thursday.
The school bus monitor who tied the youngster to the chair was situated towards the front of the vehicle and “was utilizing a cellular telephone while wearing earbud headphone devices in both ears,” according to the office.
“The investigation revealed that this was in violation of policies and procedures,” according to the office.
Prosecutors said police rushed to a school in Franklin Township soon after 9 a.m. and performed CPR on the unconscious youngster. She was taken to a nearby hospital where she was declared dead.
Prosecutors said the school bus monitor, 27-year-old Amanda Davila of New Brunswick, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with second-degree homicide and endangering the welfare of a child after an investigation.
She was being kept in Somerset County Jail for a detention hearing, which is expected to take place on Tuesday, according to the prosecutor’s office. It is unknown whether she has an attorney who can speak for her.
Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Police Chief Francisco Roman informed ABC News that the child’s identity would not be released according to the requests of her family. He stated that an autopsy report is awaited.
Her parents told New York ABC station WABC that their daughter was diagnosed with Emanuel syndrome, a rare chromosomal impairment.
“She did not deserve this, to be taken away from us in such a way that had nothing to do with her condition,” her mother, Najmah Nash, told the broadcaster.
“My daughter, she can’t speak, she’s helpless,” Wali Williams, her father, told the broadcaster. “She can’t even take the harness off on her own, let alone the seat belt.” Her only option is to move her arms.”
The bus monitor worked for Montauk Transit, which is situated in Somerset, New Jersey. The bus company’s president, John Mensch, said in a statement that they are “all devastated by the loss” of the youngster.
“We all extend our deepest condolences to the family and are grieving as a company,” Mensch added. “All of our employees understand that the safety of the children we transport is our top priority, which is why we are fully engaged in the law enforcement investigation and support any punishment that the justice system deems appropriate for the arrested bus monitor.”
In a statement to the school community on Thursday, Franklin Township Public Schools Superintendent John Ravally addressed the child’s death.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with this student’s family and friends,” Ravally stated.