Exclusive: Bus driver abandons bus full of children in New Jersey

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A school bus driver who abandoned a bus with more than a dozen students still inside was driving with a suspended license.

Eyewitness News spoke exclusively Wednesday to a mother and her 11-year-old daughter with special needs after the driver abandoned the girl and several other children on a bus in New Jersey.

Amber Easterling, 11, was on the bus last Thursday afternoon on her way home from Avon Avenue School in Newark when the bus driver stopped dropping students off and instead drove to her home, parked the bus and got out.

"She told the bus attendant that you gonna have to handle these kids yourself," Amber said.

Amber's mother was at home waiting for her.

"I was cleaning up, getting my daughter's food ready for dinner and I realized it was four o'clock and she wasn't home," Angele Easterling said.

Around 4:30 p.m., police officers responding to calls of a school bus that had missed designated stops found the bus near Stuyvesant Avenue and Abinger Place, Newark police said.

Fourteen children were onboard, none of them were injured.

The bus driver was issued a summons for driving with a suspended license.

Police took the children to a nearby precinct where parents picked them up.

Eyewitness News reporter Toni Yates went to the bus company's offices in East Orange where an employee of Mercy USA called the company's private line, but the person who picked up refused to answer any questions.

Newark Public Schools released a statement, saying Mercy US's contract was canceled:

"The District has removed this vendor from transporting students to Avon Avenue School and is in the process of determining next steps regarding future services. In addition, because established guidelines were not adhered to, the District has also imposed liquated financial damages for this infraction. This continues to be an active investigation."

"I'm still sick on the stomach because right now I'm not letting my daughter take the bus to school," Angele Easterling said.

Police say the school bus driver was reportedly unfamiliar with the route.

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