A 48-year-old mentally disabled man was found dead in the back of a van yesterday, more than six hours after he was supposed to have been dropped off at a Harlem day center. The van, operated by the Association for the Help of Retarded Children, delivered a group of developmentally disabled passengers to 2082 Lexington Avenue in East Harlem about 9 a.m. Eason Alonzio was among them, but he never made it out of the van, and investigators are looking into whether any windows were left open after the van was parked in 90 degree heat for the day.
An employee for AHRC found Alonzio around 3:30 p.m., slumped in the back seat, lying face-up with his feet still on the ground, the Times reports. It's still unclear if any of the windows were left open, and the medical examiner is conducting an autopsy to determine the cause of death. The driver and a caretaker were taken to the precinct for questioning and released, but if it turns out Alonzio died of heat stroke, they could face criminal charges.
The horrible incident is just the latest in an ongoing series of people being left behind on buses. In April, a two-year-old boy was left behind on an unlocked bus for hours, last January a special ed girl was forgotten on a freezing bus for hours while the driver got breakfast, and in 2008 an autistic boy was found in a bus parking lot "dehydrated, sweaty and hungry."