Two were arrested in New Rochelle over the weekend after “purposely misleading” police during an “exhaustive search” for a missing autistic teenager, authorities said.
Shortly after midnight on Saturday, March 4, police received a call from a mother reporting that her 16-year-old child, who has special needs, had gone missing after he was supposed to be dropped off by Mount Vernon-based First Student Inc. Bus hours earlier following an event in New Rochelle that he attends regularly.
Officers responded to the residence and location of the event, determining that the child was not present at either place, police said. Officers then canvassed both areas looking for the child, and conducted an interview with the bus monitor, Iakua Haywood, who stated that she personally witnessed the child exit the bus and make way to his home earlier.
During the next several hours, a search was conducted with the assistance of the Westchester County Department of Public Safety Aviation and K9 Units, police noted. Detectives then contacted the bus company manager, who used GPS to determine that the bus had never stopped at the child’s residence.
According to police, the bus company manager proceeded to the business’ garage, where she located the missing teenager on the bus at approximately 7:40 a.m. Saturday morning. “The child appeared in good health and was transported to his residence and reunited with his mother.” An ambulance was dispatched to the home to evaluate the teen.
Police stated that “it became apparent that numerous safety procedures violated placing the child at risk and that New Rochelle Police Department had been purposely misled with false information, placing the child at substantial risk of harm, delaying and delaying and misdirecting search efforts.”
Both Haywood, a New Rochelle resident, and the bus driver, Bronx resident Laikhraj Prashad, offered statements to police indicating their guilt in the incident. Each was charged with misdemeanor counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child. They are due back in court later this year.