NEW YORK – An 8-year-old boy was in custody after he sneaked onto a school bus and released its parking brake, causing it to roll forward and kill a young girl, police said Tuesday.
Police Officer Doris Garcia had said that the boy, whose name was withheld, was to be charged with criminally negligent homicide. But police later directed followup queries to the city's corporation counsel, which would handle the case if it goes to family court.
"We are waiting to see if we receive the case," Kate Ahlers, spokeswoman for the corporation counsel, said Tuesday afternoon.
Amber Sadiq, 8, was walking home from school with her 10-year-old brother when she was struck by the bus in the Crown Heights neighborhood of the borough of Brooklyn around 3:20 p.m. Monday, a block from the children's elementary school, said Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents the district.
Police said they believed that the boy was alone on the bus; however, James said a "concerned citizen" saw two boys — the 8-year-old and a 10-year-old — climbing into the bus through the emergency door, which does not lock. The woman removed the boys from the bus, and then at some point the bus started rolling down Nostrand Avenue, James said.
She said only the 8-year-old was accused of releasing the brake. The councilwoman said the same "concerned citizen" had seen the 8-year-old boy get into a school bus on Friday, and she had taken him off the bus then as well.
James said that on Monday, the driver had parked on Nostrand Avenue after securing the bus.
Keith Kalb, a spokesman for the Department of Education, said the bus driver, who worked for a private company Jofaz Transportation, had finished his rounds and was on his lunch break.
Kassandra Polanco, 12, who saw the bus bearing down on the girl, said, "She tried to run but the garbage can was in the way."
Deli worker Sam Ahmad said he saw the girl under the bus and called in the emergency. He said he and about a dozen other men tried to lift the yellow bus to free her but it was too heavy.
James said Amber's brother "jumped out of the way. She got hit," and later died from massive head wounds at Kings County Hospital.
Relatives said Amber was a student who got top marks.
"She was sunshine," Lucy Caba said of her niece. "She was such a happy kid. No matter what, she always had a smile."