NJ mom’s nightmare triggers push for safety upgrades on special-needs buses
At 11 years old, Emma was stuck on a bus for more than seven hours before it was eventually found 2.5 hours from her school for students with special needs.
When the bus returned, Emma and her peers were screaming, soaked with urine.
The bus driver apparently lost sense of direction for several hours — and no one at the school, nor the kids' parents, could contact the vehicle.
"It was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. It was horrible," said Jenn Love, Emma's mother. "I thought I was never going to see her again."
Love, of Cranford, said there's no reason why people can instantly learn the identity, location and contact information of an Uber driver, but wouldn't have the ability to get the same information for a person who transports their vulnerable kids on a daily basis.
It's been Love's mission for years to upgrade the equipment on and improve the communication from buses that transport students with special needs such as Emma, now 19 years old, who has autism and is non-verbal. Lawmakers are aiming to help her out by year's end.
A proposed state law, sponsored by legislators on both sides of the political aisle, would require that these buses be equipped with an interior camera, a GPS that shares location in real time, and two-way communications equipment.
"When we get back in November to the Assembly, I'll ask Speaker Coughlin to post the bill," Assembly Minority Leader John Bramnick said during a Zoom press conference with Love.
Bramnick said he'd like to see the bill passed and signed by Christmas.
The bill is designated as "Emma's Law."
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.