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October 24, 2013  |   Comments (13)   |   Post a comment

After child choked on bus, driver charged with neglect


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NAPLES, Fla. — A school bus driver was arrested and charged with child neglect on Friday after a child was choked unconscious by another child on the bus she was driving.

Collier County Sheriff’s Office detectives said that Irena Fulton, 57, “failed to provide any assistance to the victim during or after the Oct. 15 attack.”

According to police reports, Fulton was driving a Collier County Public Schools bus from a Boys and Girls Club to an elementary/intermediate school when the suspect attacked the victim around 7 p.m.

The victim told detectives that the suspect, unprovoked, had put him in a choke hold and choked him unconscious on the bus, reports said.

According to police reports, “at no time did Fulton stop the bus to ask if there was a problem.”

Detectives said that another student assisted the victim off of the bus and onto the sidewalk. According to police reports, Fulton did not get off of the bus to inquire about the seriousness of the injury to the victim, nor did she call 911 or call for medical assistance.

Police said that the bus depot staff learned of the incident after the school called and notified them of it the next day.

Detectives arrested the juvenile suspect in the attack on a felony charge of battery on Oct. 17.

The news recalls a recent incident in Pinellas County, Fla., in which a school bus driver was criticized for not physically intervening when a student was being beaten by three older students on his bus.


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Read more about: driver training, Florida, law enforcement, student violence


To Kevin, about your comment. Knowing the child's names and talking with them, getting to know them showing them you care helps a lot. But in my district we are very short on drivers and some bus routes have a new substitute driver every day. The driver knows nothing about the kids, knows none of their names. The kids don't know you and don't respect you. In fact they don't even listen to you. Sometimes if police are involved, they talk back to the police and don't even listen to them. How do you control a bus like that and even know what's going on back there? The only way is to stop the bus and walk back there. Sometimes that doesn't work. If it does and they settle down as soon as you are back in your seat driving they are back to their antics.

Janis    |    Mar 14, 2014 09:41 AM

This is why I have bus leaders on our bus. Students are instructed to do everything they can to get my attention. I have told my kids if there is something happening they are asked to intervene until I am able to safely pull over. Students are instructed to raise their hands and yell for help if they are in trouble. Teach your students to defend themselves on the bus. I don't have all the details to agree or disagree with the charges. Too many questions.

Anonymous    |    Oct 27, 2013 11:15 AM

Drivers....get over it. She was wrong and should either be prosecuted or find another job. I have drivers that work in a tough urban environment that know the names of every kid on the bus. They know the parents name. When you have a relationship like that kids respect your authority and don't act out. Ever ask a kid how the game went? Ever welcome them back after an illness? Get involved, be a mentor, not just someone who drives. I'll always said, anyone can drive a school bus, not everyone can be a bus driver. Wake up.

Kevin Mallory    |    Oct 27, 2013 05:23 AM

Once again the news media making it sound as if all we do is sit there and drive. There was not one single comment made in the newspapers or television when a student on my bus convinced his brother to place a plastic bag over his head and breathe, I had to pull the bus over and literally claw the bag off his mouth and nose area so he could get air. I did not even get a thanks from the parents of this child! The very next day its all over the news how another driver didn't pull over when a fight occurred on his bus. Go figure...a fight on the bus is more important and sells more papers than a childs life being saved.

Michelle    |    Oct 26, 2013 09:45 PM

I am so Glad we have cameras on all our buses. That way, it protects the kids, and the driver

Cherylbnuts    |    Oct 26, 2013 03:48 PM

as a school bus driver i know students do not report situations to me all the time but instead report to the parents when they get home or the school staff when they arrive. we are expected to drive the bus safely during all sorts of weather conditions and babysit the students. did the other students report to the driver what was happening? surely there are cameras on the bus. did the camera footage show any students yelling to the driver or coming to the front to tell the driver ? the students and parents depend on us for safe rides but they must also assume some responsibility by reporting incidents to us to enable us to take action. the " i'm not going to snitch" rule among many students prevents us from fully protecting our passengers. let's view the tape before criticizing the driver or the students aboard the buses in question.

penny    |    Oct 26, 2013 09:35 AM

I know that we do not have the entire story, but I have to agree with the charges, it sounds like the driver was made aware of the incident after it happened. The fact the child was hurt and had to be assisted off the bus should have raised a red flag and prompted the driver to ask if everything was ok. I absolutely agree that she may have not seen what was going on, but I am sure a child being choked must have cause some kind of commotion on the bus while it was happening and that would not have been hiding behind the high seat. As a supervisor, your responsibility is with the safety of the children on your bus. The incident in Florida where the driver may have been criticized, for those who are bashing on admin the driver was upheld and was accredited for doing what he was trained to do. I will always take a drivers side if you are doing your job. Our responsibility goes beyond driving a school bus.

Tracie    |    Oct 26, 2013 09:28 AM

Where does it mention that the bus driver knew it was happening? Especially if the bus has high back seats, they can't see everything that goes on behind their head. He might have been focusing on driving the bus safely instead.

Tyler    |    Oct 26, 2013 09:14 AM

You have no idea what goes on on these buses! These kids are in control! They rule. We have no say what they do and they are all disrespectful and spoiled. Their parents think they can do no wrong and don't care what their kids do anymore. It gets old....let me tell ya. Sometimes you just want to back hand them

Anonymous    |    Oct 25, 2013 07:33 PM

Unless you have been behind the wheel of a school bus with 50 or 60 children who cannot even be seen over the seats, dont be so quick to judge! Believe me if they want to do something bad enough they will do it, and it matters not how many times you ask them to stop, they wont, try driving, watching them to make sure they are behaving, cause we all know when something bad happens on that bus, it will come back to the driver!Regardless of any misbehavior of the students, it will fall on the driver!!! It boils down to this: The driver has all the responsibility and no authority, and the people who have the authority (parents, teachers, transportation directors etc...)take no responsibility!!! It is a no win situation for the drivers, if you try, your over stepping your boundaries, if you dont try, your irresponsible!! Walk a mile in their shoes, you might see things a little differently!! They spend everyday looking after other peoples kids ( and they are not all angels), who looks out for them!!!????

Anonymous    |    Oct 25, 2013 07:13 PM

To Dave: 1) Parents don't ride school buses. 2) Professional drivers are not dependant on the encouragement of school administrators and if they have not interest in caring for children they should drive cargo instead. CDL drivers have many professional options unless they under-value themselves by having no work ethics! 3) School bus is a tough job when the kids are bigger than you are... but that's why they have a RADIO to request assistance with "juvenile suspects."

CJ    |    Oct 25, 2013 09:32 AM

School bus drivers are really under appreciated and supported...that is why you will see more and more of this.....it is true the driver should have intervened-(age dependant of students)....or at least stopped the bus and radioed for help. But once again apathy begats apathy....administrators are apathetic towards drivers....and soooo...no surprise. And where are the parents once again.

Dave    |    Oct 25, 2013 05:18 AM

I totally agree with the charges against the driver; those kids are depending on us as drivers to help them in the event something like this happens. Parents put their trust in us to guard their kids and watch over them.

dwight    |    Oct 25, 2013 04:25 AM

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