PD: Hamden bus driver charged after 5-year-old left bus before designated stop
HAMDEN — Hamden police say a First Student Bus Driver was arrested and charged after a 5-year-old was allowed to leave the bus before his designated stop.
According to police, they were called to the area of Dudley Street and Saint Mary Street on the report of a “missing 5-year-old boy”. Police were told that the child did not return home after school. The student had a designated bus stop located at Dudley and Saint Mary Street where his father was waiting for him, according to police.
When the bus arrived, police say the child was not on it. The father reportedly then questioned the driver, 54-year-old Wojcich “Albert” Nowak on his son’s whereabouts. Nowak said the child was still on the bus, according to police. The father then searched the bus but could not find his son.
Police say several students told the father that the 5-year-old had gotten off the bus at another stop to use the bathroom.
Shortly after officers responded, the boy’s mother told police that the father found the 5-year-old walking in the area of Dixwell Avenue and the New Haven town line with an adult, police say. Hamden Fire Rescue responded and evaluated the child who was then taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital for further evaluation.
According to police, Nowak told an officer that he had asked a 6th grader to sit at the front of the bus to help separate the 5-year-old and another child from “playing for the duration of the bus ride”.
Police then say Nowak was told by the 6th grader that the 5-year-old needed to use the bathroom. When the bus stopped at Easton Street and Alstrum Street, the 6th grader then allegedly told Nowak that the 5-year-old lived nearby. According to police, Nowak said he allowed the child to exit the bus with the 6th grader.
Police say Nowak then returned to the First Student Bus Terminal. he then “recruited a co-worker” to assist him in finding the 5-year-old, according to police, as well as “recruited several of the children who he had already dropped off”.
Police say Nowak was arrested and charged with risk of injury to a minor (leaving a child unsupervised. Nowak was released on a promise to appear and is scheduled to appear in Meriden Superior Court on September 18th.