Police recommend child abuse charges against van driver after teen with autism locked inside for hours
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — A 911 call released by police in Goodyear, Arizona revealed a mother’s panic after learning her son was locked in a van for more than two hours.
Police said an employee with Precious Home Services picked up the 16-year-old boy, who has autism and is non-verbal, to take him and seven other children to a learning center, but never got him off the bus.
“I thought she had got [the teen] out of the van,” said the driver, 36-year-old Diana Salgado-Gutierrez. “I didn’t see him, and when I went inside the van to take the van to the main center to drop off the keys, I looked in the rearview mirror and I didn’t see anybody.”
The driver was remorseful when speaking to police, telling them she parked the van back at the office and left to appear in court for a hearing regarding a crash.
She said she had no idea the teen was still on the bus until she got a call as she returned.
“I ran inside to get the keys,” she told police, once she realized he was still inside.
Police took several photos of the van in question the next day, and even tested the temperature inside the van where the teen sat. After more than two hours, police said the temperature inside reached 128 degrees.
Police recommended child abuse charges against Salgado-Gutierrez, who had not been arrested, according to the police report.