WEST PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – A Pennsylvania school bus driver who allegedly left a 7-year-old on a running school bus while he stopped into a Shop Rite faces multiple charges after a witness called police.
Jamar Henry, 28, picked the boy up from Cornerstone Christian Academy Monday afternoon and apparently decided to make a pit stop at the Shop Rite supermarket on Haverford Avenue, where he left the child unattended for about 10 minutes, Philly.com reports.
A passerby noticed the child was alone on the idling bus and called police, who found the child by himself around 4:45 p.m., Lt. John Walker told the news site.
“Investigators say that while officers talking to the child, Henry came running out of the store, telling officers he had a bathroom emergency and needed to stop,” according to WPVI.
The store’s surveillance told another story.
Footage from inside the store showed Henry standing in line at the customer-service counter for 10 to 15 minutes before he filled out a Western Union money order, Walker told Philly.com.
The responding officer also discovered Henry had about a gram of marijuana in his coat pocket, though he did not appear to be under the influence of the drug, according to police.
Henry, an employee of Durham School Services, no longer works for the company, spokeswoman Molly Hart told the news site.
Cornerstone Christian Academy issued a statement after the incident thanking the person who reported the incident, as well as the officer who responded to the scene.
“Our first priority is always the safety and security of our students and we look forward to working together with the School District of Philadelphia’s bus services to ensure that our students are escorted safely to and from school,” the statement said.
Henry was arrested and charged with recklessly endangering the welfare of a child, as well as possession of marijuana, WPVI reports.
The boy was not hurt and was returned to his parents.
Parents and locals who commented online, of course, were not impressed with the situation.
“This is why my 7 year old has a cell phone, you just never know,” Jenn Wachter posted to Facebook. “It is absolutely sickening that you have to worry about your child going to and from school. They need to run better background checks on these people they hire to look after our children!”
“Good for the person who saw this and didn’t turn their head!” Tracie Mower added. “That person was this little child’s angel.”
“Why didn’t the dummy take the child in the store with him?” Abs Innewjersey questioned. “It was cold outside!”
“Where are they finding all these negligent bus drivers?” Joyce Levans wrote. “This is so horrifying!”