Bus company showcases new safety procedures after death of special-needs student in Whittier

WHITTIER, Calif. (KABC) -- Pupil Transportation Cooperative held a news conference on Friday to showcase their new bus safety procedures following the death of a 19-year-old special-needs student in Whittier earlier this month.

The company's bus drivers were always required to perform a standard child safety check, which meant walking to the back of the school bus to make sure everyone was off, but two weeks ago that system somehow failed.

Hun Joon "Paul" Lee, a 19-year-old nonverbal teenager with autism, died on Sept. 11 after being locked in a hot bus in a Whittier School District parking lot for hours. He had apparently been forgotten by a substitute bus driver.

"We've done a lot of soul-searching and reflection over the last two weeks, in addition to grieving with the family. That process has enabled us to come up with an action plan," PTC Spokesman Tom DeLapp said.

Two adults will now monitor every bus to ensure no student is left on board.

"One at the front, one will open the back of the bus, and they'll walk through and connect, and make sure that they've seen every single seat to make sure that we don't have a child on the bus," DeLapp said.

An electronic notification device that sounds an alarm will serve as the last check.

"You can't turn off the bus without it giving an alarm and your horn honking unless you walk all the way to the back of the bus and press a button to turn it off," DeLapp said.

The Pupil Transportation Cooperative says they hope these new safety measures will ensure no child is left behind on a school bus again. The bus company is also launching a campaign in Paul's memory, hoping to make these safety upgrades required in all school buses across California.
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