'Handle these kids yourself': Driver abandons school bus full of kids while taking them home

Posted at 7:34 AM, Feb 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-13 07:34:12-05

A bus driver with a suspended license allegedly abandoned a bus full of children in the middle of dropping them off at their homes after school.

The incident occurred on Feb. 6 in Newark, New Jersey, when the bus driver just stopped dropping students off from Avon Avenue School in Newark, New Jersey, in the middle of her bus route and instead drove to her home in another city, parked the bus and walked out, according to ABC News’ New York City station WABC.

"She told the bus attendant that you gonna have to handle these kids yourself," said 11-year-old Amber Easterling, one of the 14 students who were suddenly left abandoned.

Amber’s mother, Angele Easterling, who was worried sick waiting at home for her daughter's arrival after school at the time, is furious.

"I was cleaning up, getting my daughter's food ready for dinner and I realized it was four o'clock and she wasn't home," Angele Easterling told WABC. “I’m still sick on my stomach because, right now, I’m not letting my daughter take the bus to school … I’m just mad about it because, you know, there are a lot of things happening out here on the street, kids getting missing.”

Police officers responded to calls of the abandoned school bus around 4:30 p.m. after having missed designated stops at the children’s homes and ended up locating the bus in the Vailsburg area of Newark.

The children were taken to a police precinct and waited there until the children’s parents were able to pick them up.

The bus company is Mercy USA, located in East Orange, New Jersey, but, when contacted by media, refused to answer any questions about the incident.

Newark Public Schools released a statement, saying Mercy USA's contract has now been canceled:

"The District has removed this vendor from transporting students to Avon Avenue School and is in the process of determining next steps regarding future services. In addition, because established guidelines were not adhered to, the District has also imposed liquated financial damages for this infraction. This continues to be an active investigation."

The bus driver was eventually located and issued a summons for driving with a suspended license. Police say that she was reportedly unfamiliar with the route.