Special Needs Children

special needs children | The Maher Law FirmIsabella (Bella) died at the hands of the Hillsborough County School District

Bella Herrera, a 7 year old second grader at the Hillsborough County School District died a day after a bus ride home from school.

Bella was a special needs child who suffered from a neuromuscular disease that gave her very limited control of her neck muscles.  Little Bella was improperly positioned in her wheelchair, (her wheelchair was not tilted back) causing her head to repeatedly fall forward cutting off her air supply.

An aide on the school bus finally noticed that Bella was in distress, but did not phone 911.  Instead the aide called Bella’s mother twice while the driver radioed the district’s bus dispatch office and told them there was an emergency on board.

Bella’s mother (Lisa Herrera) arrived on the scene minutes after she was phoned.  Lisa, noticing that her little girl was blue and not breathing,  frantically phoned 911 herself, desperately trying to get help for her little girl.

April Griffin, vice chairwoman of the school board said, “this all boils down to one simple question for me.  How would I want my child treated in a similar situation?  If my child were turning blue, call 911.  It’s not rocket science.”

The aide on the school bus that day, (Joanna Hamilton) is still employed by the district, the bus driver resigned several months after Bella’s death.

“I don’t want her (Joanna Hamilton) with our children anymore, she has already proven she can’t handle situations.  She’s already failed that test.  This is not about a pound of flesh for me, this is about ensuring that our children are safe.  I would not feel comfortable putting my special needs child, if I had one, in her care.” said Griffin.

Board members of the school claim they did not know of the incident until last week, but the board chairwoman – Candy Olson – said she was aware of the matter when it happened.

Unfortunately, Bella’s death is just one of a handful of incidents related to special needs students in the last 10 months.

Steve Maher, the Herrera’s attorney said “How this situation was handled goes beyond just the two workers on the bus, it’s a problem that trickles down from the highest level of state government.  This is about a system that’s turned its back on the needy, all the state had to do was provide Bella with what the federal government was paying them to do.”

If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered because of the negligence of a health-care provider, contact The Maher Law Firm for a confidential and realistic assessment of your case today.

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