EXCLUSIVE STORY: Family accuses bus driver of assaulting autistic son

The Fulton County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating an alleged assault inside a Rochester Community School bus.

Unlike most bus abuse incidents, this case claims a district bus driver handled a six-year-old autistic boy inappropriately. And the entire ordeal was caught on tape.

Most kids learn to talk before composing their first song, but the soundtrack to Reid Warner’s life has a different tune.

"He hit about 18 months and then he just stopped. He didn't talk anymore, he didn't make eye contact, he didn't like to be touched,” Reid’s mother Lisa Warner said.

It wasn't long before doctors at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health diagnosed Reid with autism.

"He just recently started talking at five-years-old,” Lisa added.

A first-grader at Columbia Elementary School in Rochester, Reid's progress was slow but steady, until Friday Feb. 3 rolled around.

"That day he was crying and he got up to the porch from the bus and his face was real red and scrunched and he had his fists all balled-up and he said, ‘That's not exactly right mom,’” Lisa recalled.

Unable to verbalize what went wrong during the first leg of his trip home from school, surveillance cameras mounted inside Reid’s bus did all the talking.

Bus Driver: "You’re going to be last now Reid, scoot over. You're supposed to stay in your seat until everybody's off, remember how that goes?"

Color surveillance video showed driver Gary Enyart yelling at Reid as he tried cutting the line to exit the bus.

Bus Driver: "Sit down! Sit down right now! Get in!"

Reid Warner: "I want to be the leader.”

Bus Driver: “You're not going to be the leader right now.”

At 6’ 3”, Enyart lifted Reid’s 48 lb. body by the hood of his coat winter coat while yelling at him, all to teach the timid six-year-old a lesson.

Fellow Classmate: "He can go!"

Bus Driver: “He's not going to force his way through a line."

Some fifteen seconds went by before Enyart’s temper erupted on tape.

Bus Driver: "Reid, now listen! Sit down!"

Enyart again grabbed Reid by the coat, hoisted him in the air and plopped him down in a seat. Just five seconds after creating the scene, Enyart told Reid it was his turn to get off the bus.

"This upset my wife so she called me at work crying. So I told my boss, ‘Hey I got to go take care of business back home,’” Reid’s father Joshua Warner said.

Warner then drove 100 miles from his electrician job in Whiting, Ind. to the Rochester Police Department where he personally viewed the surveillance video and immediately pressed charges against Enyart.

"I don't even put my hands on my son. When he gets out of line, we have other methods of disciplining him. We never put our hands on him, let alone some stranger, some bus driver that I don't know from Adam,” Joshua added.

NewsCenter 16 went to Enyart’s Rochester home to ask what happened. Despite a school bus in the driveway, no one came to the door or returned our phone calls.

In search for answers, we shared the video with Notre Dame Professor Joshua Diehl, director of Notre Dame's F.U.N. Lab for autism research

"He's definitely not going to respond well to the emotion, he's not going to understand it,” Diehl said while viewing the surveillance video.

With years of experience interpreting autistic children’s behavior, Diehl believed the situation could have been averted with proper disability instruction.

"I think that there were a couple of instances in which the bus driver acted that were not beneficial to the child with autism. But, I would imagine that he was probably not trained how to work with children with autism. Awareness is one thing, knowledge is another thing,” Diehl added.

Knowledge Rochester Community Schools admit none of its nearly 20 bus drivers currently have; something the district says it's committed to changing.

"He told us himself that he's frustrated and overwhelmed and I don't think he did anything right. He confronted my husband, he lied about picking up my son and throwing him and I really just don't think he did anything right at all,” Lisa concluded.

Although Rochester Community Schools decided against speaking on camera or releasing a statement, Superintendent Daniel Ronk says bus driver Gary Enyart is still employed by the district. However, Reid Warner now rides to and from school with a different driver.

As for the charges the Warner’s filed against Enyart, The Fulton County Prosecutor's Office says it's still reviewing the case.


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