A school bus driver was charged Friday in connection with the death of a special needs student left on a parked bus last year.
Armando Abel Ramirez, 37, faces one count of felony dependent adult abuse resulting in death, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
On Sept. 11, 2015, 19-year-old Hun Joon “Paul” Lee was found unconscious inside a school bus parked in a Whittier bus yard. It was nearly 90 degrees outside when Lee was found, and even hotter inside the locked bus.
Paramedics were unable to revive Lee.
Lee, or Paul to those who knew him, had a severe form of autism and could not verbally communicate, but understood cues.
According to prosecutors, Ramirez was a substitute bus driver on the route and was working a split shift. He believed Lee had left the bus with other students at Sierra Vista High School, where he attended a transitional program, during the morning route, but he did not double check that the bus was empty when he returned it to the bus yard.
When he returned for his afternoon route, Ramirez was told that Lee was missing and found him inside the bus, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office. He was the person who called for help.
Lee's family has filed a wronful-death lawsuit against the bus transportation company, Pupil Transportation Cooperative. The company has said it implemented additional checks and procedures in the wake of Lee's death.
If convicted, Ramirez faces up to nine years in prison.
He is scheduled to be arraigned April 25.