HARRISON CITY, Pa. — Police say a Pennsylvania school bus driver asked an 11-year-old student to get off the bus and move a downed, live power line.
Driver Patricia Ryan told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that she “never intended to hurt anyone” on April 15 in the Penn-Trafford School District.
The boy, Tyler Cunningham, and his father, Bob, told WTAE-TV that the boy’s hand was burned, but he wasn’t seriously hurt.
On a tape, Ryan can be heard saying, ‘You know what, can one of you get out and move that wire?’
Penn Township police charged Ryan with endangering the welfare of a child for asking students on the bus to get out and remove the power line.
“The driver, identified as Patricia Ryan, can be heard speaking on the bus radio, advising that power transformers had blown and wires were down on the roadway. Bus Radio Dispatch can be heard advising the bus driver take Walnut Street to avoid the down power lines. The bus can then be seen proceeding past Walnut Street and become entangled in the power lines,” according to the criminal complaint.
Ryan was fired from the bus company.
“Penn-Trafford School District administration was advised earlier today of an incident that occurred this morning in which a wild goose flew into and struck an electronic wire system in Harrison City causing several wires to be disconnected and fall to the ground, resulting in a power outage. A school van owned and operated by First Student to transport Penn-Trafford students was in the area at the time of this incident and was obstructed by the fallen wires and became stuck underneath the wires. The Penn Township police and the fire department responded and were quickly on site. I, as District Superintendent, along with district administrators Brett Lago, James Bracco, and Jim Simpson, also responded immediately and were present at the site of the incident.
“The wires were quickly removed and the school van proceeded to transport all of the children to school. From the time of the incident and leading up to the arrival of these students at school, there was nothing that had been observed by those of us who had responded to cause a reason for concern. However, it was subsequently learned from the students who were on that van that while the van was situated under the fallen wires, and prior to the time any of the responders were on site, the driver asked if any of the students would be willing to exit the van to check the wires. One student elected to do what was being requested and did exit the van to check on the wires. Once this event was disclosed to Mr. Simpson, the building principal, he immediately reported it to me. First Student was immediately contacted and this incident was reported with a demand that the driver be removed from servicing Penn-Trafford School District students. All necessary steps have been taken to assure that this driver not provide services to the district at any time in the future.
Dr. Matthew Harris”