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Police conclude investigation into death of boy locked in school bus in Hanoi

Saturday, December 07, 2019, 15:49 GMT+7
Police conclude investigation into death of boy locked in school bus in Hanoi
The Gateway School in Cau Giay District, Hanoi. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Police in Cau Giay District in Hanoi on Friday announced the conclusion of an investigation into the death of a first-grader who was locked inside a school bus for nine hours in early August, with prosecution proposed for three suspects.

The police suggested the district People’s Procuracy launch prosecution against Nguyen Bich Quy, 55, and Doan Quy Phien, 53, for committing “involuntary manslaughter” and Nguyen Thi Thuy, 29, for “neglecting responsibility, causing serious consequences."

The result of the police investigation shows that Quy and Phien, who were the supervisor and driver, respectively, of a school bus contracted by the Gateway School in Cau Giay District to transport its students, started picking up 13 Gateway students on a 16-seater van at 6:00 am on August 6.

Of the 13 students, Le Hoang Long, 6, got on the school bus from his house at the Trung Yen Plaza apartment on Trung Hoa Street in the namesake district at around 7:00 am.

The boy was wearing a red T-shirt that morning and brought another grey-white T-shirt in his backpack to school.

Long sat on the fourth row in the van, which has five rows of seats.

A yellow balloon which was later found inside the van had been left behind by another student from the previous day, investigators found.

A 16-seater Ford Transit van, similar to the one in which a first grader was neglected for nine hours on August 6, picks up students outside the Gateway School in Hanoi. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A 16-seater Ford Transit van, similar to the one in which a first-grader was neglected for nine hours on August 6, picks up students outside the Gateway School in Hanoi. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

The school bus carried all 13 students to the Gateway School on Khuc Thua Du Street at around 8:00 am.

Upon their arrival at the school’s side entrance, Phien remained in his driver's seat while Quy opened the slide door to let the students out.

The 55-year-old woman was occupied with helping two twins get to their class that she neglected to count the number of students having got off the vehicle.

Neither Phien nor Quy double-checked the van before the driver drove it to a parking lot at the Academy of Journalism and Communication on Xuan Thuy Street, with Long still inside.

Before leaving the vehicle and locking the doors, Phien did not check on the passenger compartment where Long was either, police found.

Despite leaving Long on the van, Quy noted in the school bus attending book that all 13 students had been picked up and dropped off.

Meanwhile, Long’s homeroom teacher Nguyen Thi Thuy failed to update his absence on the school management system after class started.

Doan Quy Phien, driver of the Gateway School's school bus involving in the death of a first grader who was neglected for nine hours on August 6, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
Doan Quy Phien, driver of the Gateway School's school bus involving in the death of a first-grader who was neglected for nine hours on August 6, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Later in the morning, Thuy did update the number of attendants on the school system when being reminded by a school staff member, but noted that Long’s absence had been excused.

Had she not done so, the boy's absence from class without an excuse would have triggered the system to send a notification to his parents.

It was not until 3:45 pm that day when Phien drove the school bus from the parking lot to the Gateway School to pick up students that Quy found Long lying motionless on the vehicle's floor behind the driver's seat.

The boy was given first aid by the school’s healthcare staff before being rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead from circulatory and respiratory failure due to heatstroke as a result of being left for long hours in a confined space.

After the incident, Thuy asked a staff member in the Gateway School’s academic affairs office on August 7 to help her change Long’s absence status to 'unexcused.'

The homeroom teacher has admitted that she had been fully aware Long was absent from school without a reason but had not informed his parents of his absence.

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