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A 6-year-old Girl with Special Needs Dies After Choking During a School Bus Trip in Franklin Twp

By Barbara A. Preston | Posted July 20, 2013

A school bus monitor is charged with manslaughter after a 6-year-old girl in a wheelchair died in Franklin Township on Monday.

Police arrested Amanda Davila, 27, of New Brunswick, for allegedly wearing earbuds and talking on her cell phone while she was supposed to be monitoring the young girl during a school bus ride in Franklin Township on July 17.

Franklin Township police responded to a local school for a call about an unresponsive child on Monday, July 17, at 9:04 am, according to Somerset County Prosecutor John P. McDonald. Officers administered CPR to the 6-year-old child, who was then transported to an area hospital’s intensive care unit and was subsequently pronounced dead.

An investigation revealed that the child, a 6-year-old female with special needs, was attending an extended-school year program at a local school in Franklin Township. The 6-year-old used a wheelchair and was transported by a transit school bus from her residence on the morning of July 17. Upon entering the school bus, the child’s wheelchair was secured in the rear of the bus by Amanda Davila, who was assigned as the school bus monitor.

During the transport, a series of bumps in the road caused the 6-year-old to slump in her wheelchair seat. This caused the four-point harness, which secured her to the chair, to become tight around her neck ultimately blocked her airway. During the ride, Davila was seated towards the front of the bus and was using a cellular phone while wearing earbuds in both ears. The investigation revealed that this was in violation of policies and procedures.

Amanda Davila

Police arrested Davila on July 19 without incident and charged her with 2nd degree manslaughter and 2nd degree endangering the welfare of a child. Davila was lodged in the Somerset County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Detectives from the Franklin Township Police Department along with detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit responded to investigate.

Prosecutor McDonald, Detective Francisco Roman Jr., and Franklin Township Public Safety Director Quovella M. Maeweather request anyone with information relating to this incident to contact the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit at 908.231.7100 or the Franklin Township Police Department at 732.873.5533 or via the STOPit app.

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The STOPit app allows citizens to provide anonymous reports including videos and photos. STOPit can be downloaded to your smart phone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: SOMERSETNJ. Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 888.577.TIPS (8477). All anonymous STOPit reports and Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.

NOTE: The charges are merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


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