Teen with autism left on school bus for 6 hours, mother says

Teen with autism left on school bus for 6 hours, mother says

BEAVER COUNTY, PA (WTAE/CNN) - A Pennsylvania mother is demanding answers after she said her autistic son was left alone on a school bus for six hours.

Teresa Salvatore said her son Payton Riegle, 16, was put on a bus Friday morning but never made it to school.

Riegle has autism and limited verbal skills.

Salvatore said he is also shy and likely felt concerned and confused when she said he sat alone on the school bus in a bus garage for six hours.

“It’s horrible,” she said. “I can’t imagine what he thinking. Was he abandoned you know? ‘Where’s mom and dad? Hey, mom I’m hungry. I’m thirsty.’ With a soiled diaper because he’s not completely potty trained.”

Salvatore said neither the driver on the McCarter Coach and Tour bus, nor the aide who discovered Riegle still sitting on the bus at the end of the day, told her what happened.

She said she had no idea that her son wasn't at school until officials from the New Horizon School called.

The superintendent of the New Brighton School District said they are working with the bus contractor to determine what happened.

“We were deeply troubled to learn that a student was missed after a safety walkthrough was conducted by our aide," said Dan Donnelly, vice president for the bus company. "We are conducting an internal review of how this occurred. Everyone involved has been suspended without pay.”

Salvatore said she will not send her son back to school until she sees the bus video of his hours alone.

"It's awful,” she said. “Just awful. Heartsick. This could have ended very bad."

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