Local mother says 7-year-old son with autism was left on van

- A local mom says her son with autism was left on a school van after falling asleep in the backseat.

7-year-old Tyler Barlow stayed home from school Wednesday to be with his mom to be safe. "I didn't want to go to school because I thought something was going to happen," Barlow said.

On Tuesday afternoon, he was picked up from his elementary school by a Wheat Services van to be driven along with a couple of other special needs students to a group therapy session in Havertown. However, Barlow fell asleep in the backseat and neither the driver nor an aide noticed as they traveled to Havertown, drove back to their headquarters lot in Prospect Park and then left the van, according to his mother.

Based on the timeline described by his mother it appears the 7-year-old with autism sat alone in that parked van for an hour or more before being discovered.

"I was just out of breath. Like, put my kids life in these people's hands and I just felt heartbroken," his mother, Candaice Harris, told FOX 29.

Wheat Services is a subcontractor for Community Transit, which is a private, non-profit  that provides transportation for kids like Barlow. Tom Gianchristoforo is executive director.

"Yes. It's not right. It shouldn't happen. It should not happen. There's no justification for it," Gianchristoforo said.

Jack Lippart is the man in charge at Wheat Services. He declined to talk to us on camera citing contract policy, but an email from Wheat confirms both the driver and the aide have been fired.

Stunningly, Barlow  was forgotten and left onboard a transportation van last December by different company.

He's having a hard time coping.

"This morning I woke up to have him in my bed telling me he's sorry and he didn't want to lose me. I asked him, 'What do you mean you don't want to lose me?'  He said, 'Mom, I could have died on that van.," Harris said.

 

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