Autistic student dies after being left on hot school bus

Photo: GoFundMe

A 19-year-old special needs student was found dead inside a hot school bus in California on Friday after he was locked inside for hours.

Paul Lee, who had severe autism, was found dead in the aisle of a bus parked in the Whittier Union High School District parking lot. The young man's family said that he boarded the bus that morning as he does every morning, but that he never got off on Friday.

As Paul was nonverbal, his regular bus driver always said "Let's go, Paul" to make sure he knew to get off the school bus when they arrived at school. That day, Paul's usual bus driver was not at work. Paul's sister Eiden Lee said that the substitute driver probably didn't check to make sure every student was off the bus before locking it. She said:

"I'm guessing that the bus driver thought that everyone got off the bus. He didn't look back to check. He wasn't careful. And then the school didn't even bother to call my mom to check if Paul was supposed to be absent. That little attention and care could have saved his life."

The family believes that Paul was trapped inside the bus for almost 10 hours in triple digit temperatures. They're still awaiting the autopsy report. Eiden and her family are devastated to think about how scared Paul must have been while trapped inside the bus. She said:

"He sees the school in front of him, but the door is locked. Other people would have just honked [to attract attention]. But he didn't know to do that."

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to pay for Paul's funeral. Our thoughts are with Paul's family during this difficult time.

Watch this video to learn about the dangers of leaving people in hot vehicles:

Man Sits In Stifling Car To Raise Awareness For Child 'Hot Car' Deaths

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