Bus Driver Allegedly Threatened Boy With Autism

By Ralph Iannotti

MCKEESPORT (KDKA) — An unidentified driver for the Pennsylvania Coach Lines Bus Company in McKeesport has been suspended after he reportedly verbally and physically threatened a 9-year-old fourth grader with autism.

The child was riding on his bus Wednesday morning.

The suspension comes after West Mifflin School Superintendent Dr. Janet Sardon told KDKA-TV that school officials had looked at surveillance video from the school bus the boy was riding on and asked Coach Lines to remove the driver from running any school routes in the district.

The disciplinary action was the result of Adam Switzer telling his teachers and his mother that the driver called him a “stupid moron.”

Switzer is a student in West Mifflin’s New England Elementary School.

“The bus driver stood up, pulled out his crow bar and said, ‘If you don’t shut your big mouth, I’m going to kill you with this crow bar,’” Switzer told KDKA-TV.

“The driver said, ‘I’ll put it [the crowbar] on your neck, and lift it till you die,’” he added.

“Personally, I’d like to hang him [the bus driver] in the town square and take target practice,” Switzer’s mother, Lesley Hindle, said.

Hindle went to West Mifflin Police and says she’d like to see the driver face criminal charges.

  • robert shoemate

    You let someone on your NEWS station say,” that she wants to use
    Someone for target practice”. When did the NEWS turn into a
    Redneck hillbilly show? My 9 year old son was sitting here, and
    Seen a person you put on your NEWS a parent none the less!
    Say she wants to use another person “ANOTHER HUMAN BEING”
    For target practice. Did my son or anyone’s child really need
    To see a PARENT say something like that?! I don’t care what happens!
    A parent should not be on the local NEWS saying she wants to
    Use another human being for target practice. when other children
    Can see and hear something like that. let alone she was saying
    Someone threatened her child .isn’t her saying she wants to use
    Someone for target practice the same thing she is complaining

    • John Doe

      My concern is with what parent 1) has their child watching the news to begin with (lots of positive stuff in this world, huh?) and 2) has their child UP watching the 11 OCLOCK news??

      If someone did that to my child, I’d sure as hell want to use them as target practice too!

      I guess I’m just an OLE REDNECK HILLBILLY…..

      PERHAPS you shouldn’t judge others til you are in their SHOES!!!

      • Bonnie Clark Smith

        Very well said!

    • JULIE


    • J-Lo

      You would probably say the same thing if someone threatened to kill your 9 year old!

    • Carley

      that bus driver does deserve that and you really shouldnt be sitting here saying stuff about this mother because she has the right to be furious about what happened especially to a child that has autism and dosent understand why hes being threatned to be killed.

  • Bonnie Clark Smith

    Why did you let your child “seen” the story (your son SAW a person, by the way) in the first place? The news is not usually something a 9 year old should be watching, You found it THAT difficult to explain that the mom was so angry about what happened to her child, that maybe she said things she didn’t mean? And, as a mom of an autistic boy that goes to school with Adam, I’d like to say that I’d be in that town square, taking the first shots.

  • Paul

    First of all, the bus driver should have an assistant, or “monitor” on that bus. A child with autism is a “special needs” child. I am not defending what the driver is accused of, but these bus drivers don’t have the most desirable working conditions. I have someone close to me that works for this company, and on many occasions she has been spit on, had objects as large as a book bag thrown at her, and even on more than one occasion a “special needs” child attempted to wipe their feces on her. These are examples a few of the types of things that drivers have to deal with, and not lose their temper. A lot of kids have no respect for their own parents, so how do you think a bus driver is treated? There are a lot of kids that have absolutely no respect for any adult, and once they leave the home the level of disrespect is outrageous. I have a family member who has an autistic child, and sometimes they want to “give up”, because the child’s behavior is such a mystery that it is almost impossible to tend to their needs. The key here is that if the bus had a “monitor”, then the driver could do what they are supposed to do, which is to drive, and the “monitor” could take care of all of the distractions that kids cause going to and from school.

    • jACKIE


      • Pam

        As a parent of a special needs child, I speak from years of experience. These children have a disorder, and they cannot always control their behaviors … an adult can! That bus driver obviously has a real problem dealing with children to allow a vulnerable child like this to cause him to speak and act so violently. Special needs children so often get bullied by other kids … they certainly don’t need it from an adult. And if a mother is feeling the need to give up on her autistic child, she needs to get more help for her child and her family through autism specialists. The help is out there, but you have to seek it, and it makes all the difference in the world. It just takes a world of patience.

    • Bambi

      amen …the special needs children should have a moniter for their safety and the safety of others on the bus or van

    • Lesley

      There IS a monitor on the bus!!!!!!

  • Kathy

    While the drivers actions and reactions were absolutely inappropriate, the school district and the bus company are also at fault. There absolutely should have been an aide on that bus to deal with the children and allow the driver to do what he is there to do-transport children safely to and from the school. He is not a babysitter or social worker. He is there to navigate a large bus through sometimes poor road conditions with ice and snow and get everyone to their destination safely. Did he respond incorrectly? Absolutely! By the same token, perhaps this child is too disruptive to be on the bus and needs alternative bus/educational options.

  • Timo

    @ Paul You are spot on.

    This is a very difficult position for a bus driver to be put in. I would also like to point out that the driver was suspended and not fired. Probably because the video simply showed some altercation between the child and the driver (It might have been completely appropriate) not because what the kid says occurred actually occurred. If the video had shown that, the driver would have been arrested and that would be public record and reported.

    I suspect the kid’s family is preparing to file a law suit and went on the news to grand stand and lead all the sheep into thinking a pirate was used as a bus driver. Why not make it a good story for the news. Kids in general are not the most reliable when accusations are concerned let alone a disturbed special needs child. More investigation is warranted and I’m sure is being performed by the people who should be doing it, not the news.

    Think for a second before accepting this story as reported. KDKA should be embarrassed for the way this was reported. Irresponsible putting the kid on the news. Mother and KDKA, shame on you.

    • Carol

      As the mother of a 10 yr old with Autism, I can tell you this: children with Autism will “script” their encounters, and most often are incapable of “fabricating” an altercation, as their ability to conjure or comprehend the abstract is impaired; but, they have a very good sense of concrete! It’s either black or white….there is no gray area. Additionally, there are a limited number of children that ride the little yellow buses. This story does not say whether or not it was a special needs (little yellow) bus, but my son has a PCA, and she does not ride the bus home with him. If they rode home with them, they would have to ride to school with them. The children are buckled in and usually there are no more than 3 or 4 special needs students. If you add an aide, then the need is severe enough to warrant it. In our particular case, the coordinator for our school district is in charge of informing these drivers of severe cases, but only–as in cases like this one–to alert the driver that theses children have a condition that may produce unwanted sounds, actions, etc…or, if the student is not allowed to have food or drinks on the bus, or is not to be sat in the same seat with another student, to avoid conflict. I wish there was a better way to say it, but the fact of the matter is, there is no excuse for a grown adult to threaten the life of a child–disabled or not!

      • Lesley

        It was not a special ed bus. It was a general population bus with a monitor. And the incident took place in front of the school, while the bus was not moving.

    • P M

      I don’t think you know what you’re talking about as far as small children are concerned or autistic children. Small children will tell you exactly what has happened and they have not learned to alter or lie about the topic unless instructed. You put it also that “let alone a disturbed special needs child”…..well autistic children are not mentally incapable! Disturbed is a term rendered to somebody that is mentally altered. Autism does not render a child incapable of being able to tell the truth in fact some of these children when they do something wrong they’ll tattle on themselves. They have an innocence that some other children don’t cause they don’t get the social interaction of the regular child normally gets with their peers. Here is a comment from a trained professional (behaviorist) that works with autistic children, “These children are very literal in their thinking and when it comes to telling a lie the majority of these kids do not cause they don’t grasp the concept of a lie. They can not wrap their minds around it cause they are so literal.” “Not to say it is impossible but very unlikely that they would lie.”

      The plain truth is…The driver was 1. The adult 2. In charge on the bus 3. Should be the one to set the example assistant or monitor or not. 4. Driver had to know their own limitations and should have asked one or more times for help on the bus. 5. In knowing their limitations (driver) should have pulled the bus over to the side of the road or a parking lot and used his radio to call for assistance. 6. The driver when pulled over or in the parking lot could have stepped off the bus with the bus turned off and the doors secured and kids and calmed down. 7. At no time should he have approached the child when upset or angry. It is up to themselves to be in control of their mind, body and actions.

      I don’t think it is wrong to put a child on the news whose autistic…….they have something to say and need to be heard. Not ignored cause they are not a model looking and speaking child. There are children who model, do movies and television shows plus appear on news stories too. People don’t go…It’s irresponsible for them to be on tv, model or movies. Just cause it was not a pleasant topic does it mean that the child should not have been on the news. I think they need to use reasonable guidelines when interviewing children but for them not to be on is sending the message that autistic children should be treated differently. You don’t know all the facts and are rendering judgment against the chiild and mother….you don’t know them. The mother has every right to be upset and she is trying to protect her child and was not able to be there to do so left her son vulnerable and her feeling bad.

      • P M

        To Driver: “You people can’t control one child in your own car let alone 50-60 at once! You cannot mesh special needs kids and regular kids into one category. That is piling together oranges and apples and expecting them to look and taste the same. 1. No one has 50-60 kids in their car at any one time. That is a job requirement that a public or school bus drive has to expect. 2. The Duggar family on the tv station has 19 children and you don’t see them griping that they have to handle 19 let alone 50-60. 3. When you made the statement above you sound angry and not well thought out in your comment. 4. Why don’t we call and ask for aid on some of these buses….the districts tell us parents it’s all about the budget. But if the bus company along with drivers and parents went together to the school districts it would work out better. 4. The schools should have the special needs children on smaller buses so that the typical and some not so typical noises don’t affect the special needs childrens’ sensory issues. Causing behavior from these children in which they use to keep calm. i.e. verbal noises, humming, repetitive hand movements. The special needs kids would not have to live with the fear of judgment and being bullied either. 5. I understand that bus drivers put up with a lot too my father drove bus for 10+ years. But even he knew that the ones with disabilities had to have more tolerance. Because it wasn’t like they were doing things on purpose. He use compassion and empathy! If the disabled ones were too disruptive he would pull the bus over and radio in for assistance. Not approach them and threatten them. 6. If a driver wants respect then he should act in a manner befitting respect. If the driver wanted respect then he should have talked to the parents way before this point and ask them why he the child in question in the article….why they behave certain way(s). Letting them know the behaviors. So they could work together. Autistic children don’t do some of their behaviors to annoy, cause disruption, to be rude; let alone disrespectful. If you are talking regular students with no special needs….They should behave while in the care and transport to school. I think that school bus driver’s don’t get the acknowledgment that they deserve but this drive was caught on video surveillance doing something wrong or he would not have been suspended would they have?? I think not!

        When people don’t take the time to gain knowledge of the things that affect their world they talk in ignorance. If you have a job where you are going to day in and out have to deal with people who are different. If would behoove someone to read up on the one or more conditions that they in their job have to do with. So when they behave in certain manners can tell whether it is disrespect or part of that person condition(s). IF you have to deal with these people and can not do it then change location, vehicle or buildings. Driver’s should not have to put up with violence and verbal abuse but there is a difference with special needs kids and regular kids and their behaviors.

      • Carol

        @P M~~~~ Amen, and thank you!

      • Driver

        You people cant control one child in your own car let alone 50 to 60 at once! Why dont you call some of these local district and ask why they dont pay for aids on all of these buses? If us bus drivers filed charges for an chargable offense the news ch could pitch at tent at our bus garage! And then maybe parents would teach their kids some respect when they start losing money!

    • Lesley

      The kid’s family is not…I repeat…IS NOT….preparing to file a lawsuit. The kid’s family is trying to protect their kid. Also…did it ever occur to you that the kid and his family felt an obligation to other parents and their kids to let them know what is happening on their school buses? How do you think the family would feel if it happened again to another child and they could have done something to prevent it?!

  • Sherry

    I too am a parent of an autistic child and my child also attends school with Adam. What needs to be done is that people who are dealing with our autistic kids need to be trained on how they may act and how to handle those actions. It is not easy for anyone to deal with kids who are autistic, even for the parents. Also, if that bus driver had threatened my child, that would be the last child he would ever threaten.

    • Kathy

      Sherry, while I sympathize with you your comment that “it would be the last child he threatened” is way out of line. Violence begets violence. I stand by my point-if those kids are not able to ride the bus without being disruptive then they should not be allowed to use that form of transit. If they are so hard to handle then maybe the parents need to transport them to and from school. If these were “normal” kids their disruptive behavior would not be tolerated on the school bus and neither should it be tolerated here. Bus drivers are NOT there to be social workers, they are to transport ALL of the children safely and if a child is so disruptive that the child endangers the other children’s safety by causing driver distraction, they should be off the bus!

      • Carol

        @Kathy~ I respectfully disagree with part of your post: “if those kids are not able to ride the bus without being disruptive then they should not be allowed to use that form of transit.” I’m sorry you feel that way. I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, and I want to be fair and not pass judgment. The aides are not allowed on the little yellow buses, and in addition, we are not given the choice of whether or not we want to send our children who have special needs to public school, and the transportation is part of that. Either way you look at this, it is still a story of an adult threatening the life of a child, and it is unacceptable.

  • Dan

    Timo, KDKA didn’t fill their story with opinions and suppositions. You’re the one that is full of “probably this” or “probably that” or “I suspect this” happened. You’re the one that should be embarrassed.
    And there is no justification for the driver to do that which he is alleged to have done. Period. Obviously, allegations must be proven and that’s what the investigation will do.

  • Bonnie Clark Smith

    Sherry: Amen! Timo: You should be ashamed for speaking on a subject of which you are so obviously ignorant. I seriously doubt a crow bar would ever make an appearance during an “appropriate altercation” with anyone, let alone a special needs child. And your assumption that an autistic child must obviously be “disturbed” automatically transfers that nasty label back to you.

  • Kaysie

    Some of your comment are absurd. Regardless of what special needs he has he is a child! My cousin is autistic and he is a great kid, he acts up sometimes but he doesn’t hurt anyone ever. The issue does not cause them to be violent. What school bus out there in a public school has an aid? None. For the last three years that little boy was on the bus he was fine, I never heard of any other incidents with a bus driver threatening to kill him. With the amount of violence this driver used towards this child, threatening to hang him with a crow bar, it sounds like he had anger built up in him from something else and took it out on the most defenseless child he could find, a child with a special needs. Bottom line is he shouldn’t have been so awful with a child and he deserves whatever he gets.

  • Greene Girl

    Don’ t automatically judge the bus driver until we hear more of the story. Did anyone else hear these threats? What had happened before any confrontation? None of you knows but have immediately judged the bus driver guilty and this boy a victim. It could be the other way around when the truth comes out. And to those above who say that kids don’t lie about these things, what dream world do you live in? I seem to remember at least 2 of those supposed luring incidents involved kids making up the story.

    • Greene Girl

      No charges to be filed – I suppose all of you will still try to crucify the bus driver.

  • Paulette Morgan

    Redrock100: You need to do research on autism cause…..a mother being a smoker or not does not have anything to do with it. I have a child with autism and I NEVER smoked. Jenny McCarthy the actress wrote a book about her experience and child with autism. Try reading this book and try not to judge someone with an autistic child. It is a like have multiple jobs in one child. You have to be a speech therapist, OT, physical therapist and more on top of what a parent of a typical child would do. To say for the mother to drive the child is like treating the child differently and makes them stand out and these children just want to be accepted and blend in with their peers. Not to mention that the mother has more to do in her day than to tack on driving and picking up her son. Sounds like you are inexperienced with autistic children and should educate yourself in this area.

    • Hmmm?

      Although the incidence of autism is low, women who smoke during pregnancy are 40% more likely to have children with autism, according to Karolinska Institute researchers.

  • Sunshine7777

    Wow, really people?? It’s amazing to me that anyone would focus on what the parent said instead of the incredibly horrific way the bus driver behaved to that child. Having a special needs child AND working a school district with a special needs child I find it disgusting that anyone who is supposed to be in charge of a child’s well-being in transition or otherwise would insult and threaten his safety. Believe me as well that someone would come within an inch of their lives if they conducted themselves in this way toward any child of mine (that goes for regular or special needs children). And why is their no PCA (personal care assistant) AND special needs student transportation provided for this student??

  • Jenn

    what a world…… :(

    • Lesley


  • No News is Good News


    That website pretty much covers it. I’m done with the “news”. This “reporting” put me over the edge. Read the above link. It’s pretty true.

    good riddance

    • nick

      oh yeah, that one website sure convinced me!

  • Lesley

    Mom isn’t a heavy smoker. Mom has a bone disease in her jaw, Graves’ disease and PKD. Maybe redrock100 needs to be less judgemental of others. Just sayin’…….

  • Sher

    I know the mother of this autistic boy. Known her since we were young. She has never smoked (to the ignorant poster above, you jerk). She does the best she can under her conditions as a single parent. It’s hard enough when you have a father/mother situation to deal with an autistic child…now picture this woman doing this alone. Yes…alone. Back off her and give her some slack.

    I heard that the bus driver has been fired. Now it’s time for him to lose his CDL so he can’t ever drive a school bus again. Oh and he needs to never work at a job where he is near children. With that kind of temperment, he does not need to be near children.

    Adam is having recurring nighmares….thanks a lot Mr. Schoolbus Driver with a Crowbar….this child is scarred for a lifetime. All that has happened to the driver is that he has lost his job….he needs to spend some time behind bars….lose his freedom.

  • dan

    It kills me that kids are not accountable for their actions any more. Its always a excuse with you liberal people. He came from a bad home so its OK to let him runaround and do whatever he wants. His dad was on drugs, he has ADD…This is exactly why the world is so bad. I don’t care if your kid has a disability or not its not a excuse to let them act like a idiot and ruin things for others..stop making excuses all the time!

    • Lex

      umm… and so that makes it okay for the bus driver to act like an idiot? You’re missing the point, Dan. Even assuming that the kid was misbehaving, the bus driver should never have taken a crow bar out, waved it at the kid, and threated to kill him with it. The fact that you are defending this kind of behavior suggests, to me, that you are either on drugs yourself, or that (more likely) you are a friend of the bus driver.

    • shygirl

      i have a special needs girl and to a point you are right i treat her just like i treat the others just cause she is M.R and autistic don’t mean they don’t need punishment just like normal kids. and the whole family life thing i agree on that can’t stand it “”but she was molested so she had to touch her children or someone else’s child.he was beaten by his daddy or he didn’t have a daddy. i came from a family of nothing but abuse and not once do I would I or could i ever go beyond that line with my kids. but back at hand the kid doesn’t need to act a fool if that’s the case but no adult should ever treat any child that way regardless that’s the reason we have so many in graves now a days .the driver should get in a lot of trouble my daughter has things that go one in her head that she can’t control and she does sometimes gets hyper on bus at school but she also has brothers and sister to help her on the bus and at school.she learns after awhile and chills out. so you right on a lot .and another reason this world went bad is cause you can.t tan their ass like the old days or else you go to jail for child abuse but i still believe if its bad enough they do get it.

  • dan

    Lex you must be one of the idiot democrats who is ruining society. When people act out of line they need to be put back into line. Why have laws at all if nobody has to follow them. Your one of those people that probably puts the police and governmet down, but calls 911 and cry when something bad happens you can’t have it both ways TURD

  • Sherry

    Dan……again your missing the point. And again, I have a child who is austistic. When he misbehaves, whatever the case may be, either at school or on the bus, I am informed and if the teachers do not take care of it I do at home. He is treated no differently when it comes to being punished that his 2 siblings that have no disabilities at all. He is taught the rules & laws and understands he has to follow them. It may take him a little longer, but he does eventually understand. I think that you should just stop posting, because you obviously don’t know what your talking about and your making a fool of yourself. How would you feel if you got on a bus and the bus driver threatened you with a crow bar? I’m sure you wouldn’t like it too much!

  • Sherry

    @dan……you may also want to go to http://www.thewatsoninstitute.org and read up on autism. They have lots of useful information there for not only you but those of you who are not informed.

  • Bus drivers daughter!!!

    What is wrong with you people?
    why on earth would the driver just pull out a crowbar and threaten the child?
    And if there was an aide on the bus dont you think they would have heard the comments being made. What about the other children??? Kids talk im sure if your child witnessed something like this happen you as a parent would of been the first person to know…
    He has been a driver for years working with kids and not one incident has ever come up. Im the drivers daughter and he has NEVER EVER threatened or put harm towards me, my sisters or brother. Ask anyone that knows him.

    • P M

      Bus Drivers Daughter…Those are valid questions. Some of the people on here have not thought out their responses. But there was a video tape of him doing something? Plus I just read that the Attorney General’s office commented that the driver was getting citations for what happened. Now something had to have happened cause a lot of people viewed this video of your father. The AG would get their butt in a sling if they cited him falsely wouldn’t they? Have you viewed this video? I am not saying that he necessarily did something wrong but it may appear that way on the video.Did the video have audio capabilities? Was what he said heard? Being a driver for years is great! My father drove bus for years too! But dealing with Autistic children has been only more prevalent in the the last 5 years cause before that there wasn’t as much acknowledgment of Autism. How educated on this condition is your father? I think when people are more educated on/in an area they are better equipped to handle things, cause they know how too. Who are educating the professionals who have to work with these individuals…like the bus drivers….teachers and so on. As a parent with a child on the autism spectrum it is a challenge each day. We don’t get to go for schooling on it…It is real life and education each and everyday for us. There are things that set these children into behaviors that wouldn’t normally happen with regular kids. We as parents with children on the Austim spectrum do our best to structure their lives to fit into the regular world. Cause we want them to be able to handle themselves out in the world. If they do something wrong we punish them just like a regular kid. But unlike a regular kid there are things that set off anxiety in these children. To what level who knows…anywhere from mild to high levels of anxiety. Here are examples: Hair dryers, vacuums, flushing of public toilets, hot air hand dryers in public restrooms, some music, battery operated toothbrushes used at home, the electronic toothbrush and drill at the dental office. Some of these kids are speech delayed and they get frustrated which in turn brings on more behaviors. These things affect their sensory area of their brain and nervous system.

      Now I know it is hard to hear things against your father and that he apparently has raise a great daughter who loves him dearly or you would not be defending him. But like the rest of us you were not on that bus that day and the video is speaking for the situation that happened. Maybe you are right but things are happening for a reason.

  • Bus drivers daughter!!!

    I understand what you are saying, from what i hear there was no audio for the tape. I would however like to see the tape myself.
    Also what most people don’t know is that my younger brother who is 8 has ADHD. You can imagine how frustrating it can be when someone with adhd hasnt had their medication…. my father is the most patient person with him.
    But with the whole situation we will just need to wait and see how everything pans out and im hoping its the truth because this man is amazing.

  • http://blog.centerforautism.com/2011/02/18/pennsylvania-bus-driver-accused-of-threatening-a-9-old-autistic-boy-with-a-crowbar/ Pennsylvania Bus Driver Accused of Threatening a 9-Old Autistic Boy with a Crowbar
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