Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A 19-year-old man with special needs was found unresponsive on a school bus in a depot in Whittier on Friday and police were investigating the death as suspicious.

Firefighters at 4:15 p.m. received a call of a person not breathing at the Pupil Transportation bus depot at 9402 Greenleaf Ave., according to a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher.

Officers responded shortly thereafter and saw several bus drivers performing CPR on a man, Whittier police Officer Brad White said.

They took over the resuscitation effort, but were unable to revive the victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene by county firefighters, White said.

The depot is west of Sierra Vista High School and the Whittier Adult School, where the man was a student in a transition program, according to White and Whittier Union High School District Superintendent Valerie Thorstenson.

The death was being treated as suspicious, White said.

“We are not ruling anything out,” he said.

The 19-passenger bus was one the man normally rides, White said.

The man rode that bus to the transition program at about 8:30 a.m., and should have boarded it to return home by 4 p.m. When he didn’t get home on time, his mother called the school district which called Pupil Transportation and that led the bus driver to find him on the bus.

Investigators will look for witnesses who can account for the man’s whereabouts throughout the day and they will look at the other riders, White said.

Thorstenson said it was not district bus on which the man was found.

“The district does not own buses nor does the district employ bus drivers,” she said.

Thorstenson issued a statement of condolence and said counselors would be made available to the man’s family as well as students and staff who were close to the victim.

“This tragedy has devastated all of us,” she said. “We are still gathering information about what happened. The district is calling for a speedy and thorough investigation to determine how something like this could happen.

“Our hearts are with our student’s parents and family — we’re all grieving. We’re making ourselves, our counseling services and our staff available to his family and to our students and staff who were close to him.”

Investigators have spoken with the victim’s mother, White said, but the man’s name was not immediately released.

Coroner’s personnel arrived at the scene tonight and will determine the cause of death and release the man’s name once proper notifications have been made, White said.

— City News Service

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