A school-bus driver has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child after leaving a 7-year-old boy alone on a running, unattended bus while the driver went inside a West Philadelphia supermarket to get a money order, police said Tuesday.
The boy, who attends the Cornerstone Christian Academy in Kingsessing, was on the bus by himself at about 4:45 p.m. Monday at the ShopRite at 6710 Haverford Ave., when a police officer went to check on the bus, Lt. John Walker of the Southwest Detective Division said.
As the officer was speaking to the boy, the 28-year-old driver came running out of the store, Walker said.
The driver claimed he had to stop the bus for an emergency — to use the bathroom, Walker said.
But video surveillance inside the store indicated that the driver actually was taking care of a different kind of personal business, Walker said. It showed him standing in line at the customer-service counter for about 10 to 15 minutes, then filling out a Western Union transaction slip for a money order, Walker said.
Furthermore, when the driver came out, the police officer discovered that the driver had about a gram of marijuana in his outer-coat pocket. The driver did not appear to be under the influence, Walker said.
The driver, Jimar Henry, also known as Jamar Henry, of the 6700 block of Castor Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia, who worked for Durham School Services, was arrested and was also charged with recklessly endangering another person and possession of marijuana, police said.
The child was not injured and was returned to his parents.
Molly Hart, a spokeswoman for Durham School Services, based in Illinois, said Tuesday that Henry is no longer employed by the company.
In an emailed statement, Cornerstone Christian Academy, a coeducational K-8 Christian independent school, on 58th Street near Kingsessing Avenue, said it was grateful to the passerby who first called 911 about the unattended, running school bus and thanked the police officer who stayed with the student and notified the school.
"Our first priority is always the safety and security of our students and we look forward to working together with the School District of Philadelphia’s bus services to ensure that our students are escorted safely to and from school," the statement said.