Arrest warrants issued in child left on bus case

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Arrest warrants have been issued for felony child neglect for the bus driver and the bus monitor were responsible for allegedly leaving a 4 year old boy on a school bus for over an hour Tuesday morning, according to Richmond prosecutors.

Police have identified the bus driver as Alvin Mathews, 43, and the bus monitor as Irene Jenkins, 60. Each charged with one count of felony child neglect, a class 6 felony which carries up to five years in prison if convicted.

As of 2 p.m. today, Richmond police said neither had been arrested but both are aware of the charges against them.

When NBC12 talked to the mother for the first time Tuesday night, she raised questions about why charges weren't filed.

NBC12 was originally told by a spokesperson that Richmond police were not investigating, and were letting school officials handle the situation. Police called us back this afternoon to say they and prosecutors are now looking into the matter.

Four-year-old Nyheim Butler was found Tuesday morning on a Richmond city school bus parked at the bus depot on one of the hottest days of the year.

"It was two hours and 15 minutes. He left home at 8:30, they didn't find him until 10:45," said Tiara Butler, Nyheim's mother.

He was treated at the hospital for heat exhaustion. His mother says he was on a bus with black tinted windows, with just six or seven other kids with special needs. Nyheim is autistic and can't speak up for himself. She wants charges filed.

"I want to know why wasn't they automatically arrested. Because if it was me and I left him in a car, I would be in jail," Tiara said.

NBC12 legal analyst Steven Benjamin says Butler is right. He says Richmond has a history of strict charges in these type of cases.

"Whenever there's an instance of child endangerment. Richmond is very quick to announce that appropriate charges have been filed and the court will decide the fate of the accused," said Benjamin.

Last month a 23-year-old mother was charged with two felonies for leaving two four year olds in a hot car for about 10 minutes. Last year, daycare van driver Keishawn Whitfield faced a murder charge for leaving a boy in his van all day. Both were convicted in court of lesser charges.

Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring says he's taking a close look at this case. Trying to determine the bus driver's state of mind and whether or not he followed procedures and checked the bus before leaving.

"I'll have to see something pretty compelling to excuse leaving a five-year-old on the back of the bus on a hundred degree day," said Herring.

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