A teenager in Oakland Park, a community in southern Florida, suffered a potentially disastrous diabetic seizure on a school bus ride home Tuesday. Luckily, he’s fine now — no thanks to the bus driver who, according to the boy’s family, put on one of the most heartless and irresponsible displays you’re likely to hear about this week. Or any time.
Here’s what happened.
Andrew Shepard is a 16-year-old high school kid who unfortunately suffers not only from diabetes, but Addison’s disease as well. That’s a condition that causes the adrenal glands to produce insufficient amounts of certain hormones that human beings need to function normally every day. The many symptoms can include fatigue, weakness and low blood sugar. The disease can cause a coma and even death. But like diabetes, it can be treated with proper medication.
But Andrew’s medication, it turned out, needed adjusting. But he didn’t know that on Tuesday when he got on a school bus with his sister Jazmen Lucas, for their regular ride home.
On the bus, Andrew started to shake and tremble.
“He was on the bus in the back, and I turned around and saw him twitching,” his sister recounts.
So she naturally did what she would be expected to do. She appealed to the adult in charge for help. In this case, it was the school bus driver. All she wanted was to be dropped off at her house, rather than on a streetcorner, because her brother was unable to function.
“I said, ‘Can you take me home like to my house because he’s having a seizure?’” Jazmen recalled. But the driver’s response, she said, was shocking.
“He was like, ‘No, you have to get off the bus.’ I called my mom, and she called 911,” said Jazmen.
“He looked my child in his face and told him to get off the bus,” said Shepard’s mom, Cynthia. “How do you do that?”
But that wasn’t all. Not only did the bus driver kick the stricken teenager and his desperate sister off the bus, forcing them to get off at their regular stop, the family says, he failed even to call emergency services or help Andrew Shepard get off the school bus.
His teenage sister was forced to pick him up off his seat and carry Andrew — who was unable even to help her by shifting his weight — off the bus by herself.
“Having a seizure is like dead weight. He’s a big kid. It takes a lot for her to do that by herself,” said the mom of the two teens. “I’m beyond furious.”
By the time paramedics arrived, Andrew’s blood sugar was recorded at 30 — well below the normal range between 80 and 120. If the level dropped much lower, he might have died.
Andrew was taken to an intensive care unit where he recovered, with the help of doctors who fixed his medications, and was released later on Tuesday. By Wednesday, Andrew was feeling himself again — despite what his family says is one of the most callous school bus drivers you can imagine.
The Broward Count School Board is now reviewing security camera footage from the bus to see what happened. The bus driver has taken some scheduled time off from his job.