EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 18, 2013

Police clear transport company of wrongdoing

By Mark E. Vogler

---- — LAWRENCE — A police investigation has concluded a 2-year-old child was never endangered while on a bus for more than two hours last Friday during a ride home from a day-care center.

It also determined there was no evidence to support allegations that Yamil Cruz was left unattended on the bus.

But Detective Lt. Michael F. McCarthy noted in his report that Transerve Inc. could have taken steps to allay the concerns of the child’s mother, Diana Bermudez, who complained she couldn’t find out where her son was for two hours after the bus failed to drop him off at her Park Street home. She also believed all the buses had returned for the day.

“The information given to me by Ms. Bermudez led me to approach my investigation with a shared concern that her two year old child had indeed been left alone on the van/bus,” McCarthy wrote in his report.

Unable to get answers in several calls to Transerve, Bermudez decided to go to Child Care Center on Andover Street, where she was later reunited with her son.

Even after the Transerve driver dropped the child off at the day-care center, “she just repeated she was sorry several times,” but offered no explanation to Bermudez,” according to Lt. McCarthy.

“Though the incident may have been handled in a different manner, there is no indication of reckless or negligent behavior that would result in a criminal case against the parties involved,” Lt. McCarthy wrote, in closing his investigation.

Freddy Recio, owner of the transport company, later told police that it was the driver’s first day on the job and that she was running late because she was not familiar with the addresses on her route.

Police also interviewed another family whose child was late in being dropped off.

Adding to the confusion, the driver said she mistook Yamil for a girl because his long hair was fastened into a pony tail.

Lt. McCarthy offered several recommendations which he thought could help prevent a similar situation in the future.

“First, a new driver who is unfamiliar with the client and the route should probably be accompanied by another person to assist him/her,” McCarthy wrote.

“There should also be a reliable form of communication between the office at Transerve and their drivers, in case of emergency. Transerve should also be more aware of when their drivers are running late so that they are able to reassure concerned parents when they inquire about tardiness,” McCarthy concluded.

The driver had been instructed not to talk to Bermudez or anyone at the day care center, according to the report.

“The driver should have told the mother exactly what happened, and it would have eliminated a lot of confusion and concerns of the mother,” Lawrence Police Chief Romero said.

“There were a lot of things this company did that contributed to this situation, which could have been avoided. At, the end of the day, we had a mother who didn’t know where her child was after two hours of worrying,” the chief said.