Driver Was Distracted by Sexual Affair While Autistic Student Died on Bus: Lawsuit - NBC Southern California

Driver Was Distracted by Sexual Affair While Autistic Student Died on Bus: Lawsuit

Paul Lee, 19, died on Sept. 11, 2015, when he was left alone and locked inside a school bus on a hot day.

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    Court documents allege that the bus driver was arranging a sexual tryst with another driver and later left a 19 year old autistic boy to die on the school bus. Gordon Tokumatsu reports for the NBC4 News at 5p.m. on April, 20, 2017. (Published Thursday, April 20, 2017)

    The bus driver who left an autistic student alone in the locked vehicle in 100-degree heat was texting a coworker to arrange a sexual rendezvous on the day of the 19-year-old's death, a lawsuit from the family stated.

    In January, 37-year-old Armando Abel Ramirez was sentenced to two years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of dependent adult abuse resulting in death of Hun Joon "Paul" Lee on Sept. 11, 2015, prosecutors said. 

    Lee had a severe form of autism and did not have verbal skills. He relied on the bus driver to direct him to the door. Lee's family believes Paul's usual bus driver was not working that day and that Ramirez was substituting. 

    "When he was found, face down in his own vomit, it appeared he was trying to exit the bus himself but all the doors were locked," the family’s attorney Brian Panish said.

    Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

    A lawsuit from the Lee family against Ramirez's employer, Pupil Transportation Cooperative, show the text messages obtained by the Whittier Police Department from that day between Ramirez and a coworker with whom he was having an affair.

    Panish said the text messages prove Ramirez was having an affair with another driver and they were sent at the time Ramirez was at school to drop off Lee.

    At 8:42 a.m., Ramirez texted his coworker, "Where you at"

    She replied, "My bus"

    "Ok"

    She texted Ramirez two minutes later, "U sure your not working in the office today"

    He replied, "Clocking out"

    "He was very distracted and wanted to get with this woman as soon as possible," Panish said.

    Lee's caregiver waited for Lee's bus to drop him off later that afternoon, but it never showed up.

    Police later found the adult school student lying in the aisle near the front of the bus parking in a Whittier school district parking lot. He was later declared dead.

    The message logs show that nearly eight hours after Lee was left on the bus, Ramirez sent another text that read: "IT'S ALL ME (sic) FAULT."

    Panish alleges the bus company is partially responsible for Lee's death because it knew about the "explicit, sexual relationship between the two drivers" and had no policy against it.

    The bus company did not respond to NBC4’s request for comment about the legal proceedings.

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