A Special Needs Child Dies During A School Bus Ride

Special Needs Children | The Maher Law FirmA 7 year old little girl with special needs dies during a school bus ride


“The parents of a 7-year-old Sessums Elementary School special needs student who died in January
on a school bus transporting her home are suing the Hillsborough County School District over their
daughter’s death.

Lisa and Dennis Herrera claim the school district violated the civil rights of their daughter Isabella when they failed to properly position her in her wheelchair; failed to monitor her during the bus ride; and failed to provide medical care when Isabella started choking Jan. 25, 2012. She was pronounced dead
the next day at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital.

The Herreras, along with their attorneys, will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. Thursday Nov. 1 in Suite 3040, the Bank of America Building, 101 E. Kennedy Blvd.

They will release copies of a school district surveillance video showing how their daughter died.

Isabella, who was called Bella, was a second-grader at Sessums. She suffered physical disabilities
because of a neuromuscular disorder. The Hillsborough County School District was supposed to provide
specialized transportation for Bella as part of her Individualized Education Plan.

Bella was returning home after a day at school. The surveillance video shows the staff never positioned
Bella to prevent her head from flopping forward after securing her wheelchair in the vehicle. The video
shows Bella’s head falling forward repeatedly after the bus begins rolling. The attendant eventually
notices Bella struggling to breathe but no one on the bus attempts to clear her airway or timely provide CPR.

The bus driver eventually pulls over at the intersection of Balm Riverview and Rhodine roads. No one
calls 911. Instead the bus driver calls a supervisor; the attendant calls Lisa Herrera and tells her to come to the bus. Despite being in front of a pediatrician’s office, no one seeks help for the no longer breathing Bella.

When Lisa Herrera arrives, she finds her daughter lifeless, blue and not breathing. She calls 911 and
grabs Bella out of her wheelchair, lying her down on a seat, and tries to breathe life back into Bella.

Paramedics eventually arrive and Bella is taken to Brandon Regional Hospital where emergency room
doctors decide she needs more specialized care and have her airlifted to St. Joseph’s where she dies the next day.

The lawsuit contends the school district violated Bella’s civil rights by having a policy or practice of failing to provide adequate special need transportation; and failing to adequate train and supervise its staff to the transportation needs of special students. The Herreras claim this wasn’t an isolated incident but part of a systematic failure of the school district’s transportation and special needs systems.”

For more information call Steve Maher (407) 839-0866 or (818) 859-2043.

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