EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 13, 2013

Company denies leaving child alone

Mom asks 'Where was my child?'

By Mark E. Vogler

---- — LAWRENCE — Police are still looking for answers as to why a 2-year-old child got stuck on bus for more than two hours Friday while a mother waited for him to be driven home from a day care center.

Lawrence police detectives finally got to interview representatives of Transerve Inc. yesterday, but were unable to resolve questions about whether the child was ever at risk.

“I do not have any conclusive evidence to support the allegation that Yamil Cruz was left unattended on the bus,” Lt. Michael F. McCarthy wrote in his report. “The investigation will remain open until such time a final determination is made,” McCarthy said.

Freddy Recio, owner of the transport company, told detectives that Yamil was never left alone on the bus.

“My driver (Ynes Pena) was working her first day for the company. She was running late yesterday because she was not familiar with the addresses on her route,” Recio said in a statement to police.

“She still had a child on the bus at the time she dropped off the boy to his mother on Andover St.” he said.

Representatives of the Child Care Center at 581 Andover St. in Lawrence told police that Yamil was put on the bus at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The boy’s mother, Diana Bermudez, of Park Street in Lawrence, was expecting the boy to be dropped off at her home by 4:15 p.m.

Bermudez called the day care center when her son was 10 minutes late. The day care center told her to call Transerve. She said she called Transerve several times before she was able to reach anyone. When she did, a Transerve dispatcher told her the buses were parked and clear and that there was no child on them.

About an hour later, Bermudez said she received a call from Transerve that her son had been located. The same bus driver drove him back to the day care center, where he was reunited with his mother.

“I want to know where my child was for those two hours and eight minutes,” Bermudez said last night.

“Where was my child at? That’s something that needs to be answered. This is something that’s very scary. When they brought him back to the day care center, he was sleeping and full of throw-up,” Bermudez said.

“There were no questions answered by the driver or the company. All she could say was ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry,’ “ she said.

Pena told detectives she was running late because it was her first day driving and she was unfamiliar with the route.

When the Transerve dispatcher called her to find out whether she had a boy on the bus from Andover Street, Pena said no — that she had a girl from Andover Street (the day care center) and a boy from the YMCA in Methuen.

Pena said she thought Yamil was a girl because he had long hair fastened into a pony tail.

Mary Vasquez, who handles calls for Transerve, told police she called Bermudez back to ask whether her son had long hair which she kept in a pony tail.

“I now know her son had been mistaken for a female by the driver,” Vasquez told police.

“Once I realized the error, I told the driver to take the child back to mom at the day care center on Andover Street. I told mom that we were taking her child to her and would meet her at the Andover Street location,” she said in her statement.

Lawrence Police Chief John Romero said he expects the investigation to continue into next week.

Romero said he wonders if the driver would have dropped Yamil off at the right address.

“There’s still some discrepancies we need to sort out. At this point, we’re still investigating,” Romero said.