Family says bus ride sent Columbus student to emergency room

Family says bus ride sent Columbus student to emergency room

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Columbus will see 90 plus degree temperatures through next week. One family tells me they had to take their 7th grader to the emergency room to be treated for heat exhaustion just last week.

The mother and grandmother say it's an issue they've had with the Muscogee County School District since last year.

Rosalind Murray explains "when he got off the school bus last Thursday, all of his clothes, his shirt, his face, his pants -- they was wet."

Murray tells me her 12-year-old grandson spends approximately two hours on bus 678 from Richards Middle School to his home on South Lumpkin Road. With temperatures in the upper 90s, the warm bus --even with the windows down-- made her grand son physically ill.

Murray adds "He had said 'Nana I got a headache, and I can't think and I just feel sick.'

She says this is because the bus her grandson rides does not have air conditioning. After some Gatorade and sleep, Murray says her grandson was ready for school the next day. But by the time he got home, the heat got the best of him.

"He said Nana I feel like I'm about to faint. Therefore, I went and took him straight to the Acute Care Medical Center for attention 'cause he was sick," Murray said. "And Dr. Watson told me that he had heat exhaustion."

Murray tells me she and her daughter then contacted the Muscogee County School District in hopes of figuring out when -or- if bus 678 would get air conditioning, but she says they were told new buses just weren't in the budget. It's a response Murray disagrees with.

"I understand people have to cut back and all that. We just have to make it work due to health," says Murray.

This is the second school year that bus hasn't had A/C, despite the district telling them it would be fixed over the summer. She calls riding children around on a scorching bus is nothing shy of criminal.

She goes on, "I feel like there's no different than leaving a hot baby in a car than we got our kids on a hot school bus."

There are more than 200 buses in the Muscogee County School District's fleet. We have reached out to the district in search of how many buses do and do not have air conditioning.

Valerie Fuller, Director of Communications with the Muscogee County School District, released the following statement on Wednesday:

"New buses are purchased annually as the budget allows. We have received some reports of some heat temperature related concerns on buses that do not have AC. The superintendent and district administrators care and share the same concerns for our students' safety and overall well-being. We are in the ongoing process of retro-fitting buses (approximately 15 within a 30 day period), specifically for AC while dealing with budgetary constraints, which is priority.  In addition, we are also working to repair any buses that are out of circulation due to mechanical issues (approximately two to three weeks) to get them back on the road as quickly as possible.  Our transportation department also makes every effort to route the non-AC buses on the shortest routes and double up on routes when possible."

Here's how the numbers stack up:

Total Bus Fleet: 307

Total Buses on Road: 271

Buses with no AC: 65

Total Drivers: 264

Cost for Buses: $110,000  (84 Passenger)
                         $ 60,000-$85,000  (36 or 56 Passenger)

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