School bus driver jailed for death of student left behind
The driver of a school bus where a student died after being left behind in soaring temperatures has been sentenced to two years in prison.
The class teacher, who reportedly failed to act on the absence of Rashid Fadhel Buzuhair as required by the school regulations, was given a one-year jail term while the bus monitor, a Filipina who was hired by the school as a cleaner, was sentenced to six months by the court on Wednesday.
The bus owner and the transportation supervisor were also given a six-month prison sentence each.
The school principal, who had said that the kindergarten section was not under his management, was acquitted.
The tragedy occurred on September 19 after Rashid fell asleep on the bus on his way to school with his twin brother Abdullah. None of the students, the bus driver or the monitor noticed that he was left behind as they got off the bus. His twin, Abdullah, reportedly mentioned to the teacher that Rashid was sleeping without elaborating, and no one asked further questions.
Rashid’s body was discovered at around noon as the driver was preparing to take the students home. The five-year-old boy was declared dead on arrival at the hospital and was buried in his village of Dar Kulaib, in the southern part of the country.
“The boy was found dead inside the locked bus as the driver and supervisor failed to ensure all students left on arrival at school,” Hussain Al Bu Ali, the Northern Governorate Chief Prosecutor, said.
“The investigation revealed that the bus monitor was in fact a cleaner who was appointed by the school principal to accompany the students. The driver involved in the tragic incident had been asked by the regular school driver to replace him temporarily even though he did not have a driving licence,” Bu Ali said.
The school, in a suburb of Manama, was shut down by the education ministry in a swift reaction that included appointing three supervisors.
“Classes have been at the school, from kindergarten up to high school to ensure there are no more tragedies and that safety requirements are fulfilled,” it said.
The ministry gradually re-opened the classes.