A 65-year-old school bus driver approaching retirement for contractor Atlantic Express died last week after his family asked doctors to remove him from life support, and the motorist allegedly responsible now faces multiple felony charges including manslaughter.
An eight-year veteran of Atlantic Express, Juan Del Valle was driving two special education students for the New York City Department of Education as well as a bus monitor on June 11 when he struck the side window of a car that was double parked on a narrow street in the Bronx. Company spokeswoman Carolyn Daly said Del Valle stopped the bus and got out of the vehicle per procedures to assess the damage while a the monitor stayed on board with the students. The owner of the struck vehicle, Joey Scott, 30, then confronted Del Valle, as is shown on a surveillance tape taken from a camera situated across the street.
Daly said Del Valle told Scott that he was going to call police to report the accident, again per company policy, when Scott struck him twice. The second punch sent Del Valle to the asphalt, where he struck the right side of his head. The video shows Scott then walk away. Daly said Scott was arrested a short time later.
Del Valle never regained consciousness. Last Friday, doctors advised the family that severe brain damage would mean Del Valle would never be able to breath on his own. The family made the decision to remove life support, per Del Valle's wishes in a "do not resuscitate" order.
"He was a wonderful, gentle man who did his job professionally and with great dedication and compassion," said Daly. "We extend our deepest sympathies to Juan's beloved children, family and friends at this most difficult time. We share their sorrow and grief, and offer our full and heartfelt support to them over the coming days and weeks.
She said the New York City District Attorney is seeking criminal child endangerment charges in addition to multiple counts of assault and, now, manslaughter. Daley added that Atlantic Express is demanding the maximum allowable sentence for Scott.
"It's really sad. Very sad and senseless," said Daly, adding that Del Valle was set to retire at the end of the school year. "He did everything he was supposed to do. He was just doing his job. We must all stand together to ensure that violence against school bus drivers will not be tolerated."