published: Friday, June 01, 2012
Driver fired after kids got sick from contaminant
ROXANNE BROWN | Staff Writer
Pablo Areas, a Lake County Schools bus driver who was the focus of an investigation into how a pressurized container filled with Malathion -- a pesticide -- contaminated some children on his bus last Friday, was fired after reporting to work on Tuesday morning.
According to Lake County Schools Spokesperson Chris Patton, a review of the bus' surveillance video spoke volumes.
Areas was sent home Friday when the investigation began. He'd only been with the district for about four to five months, according to Patton.
"The video clearly shows he (Areas) was responsible for the chemical being brought onto the bus," Patton said, adding that it seems Areas at one point stopped en route to Grassy Lake and Minneola Ele-mentary Schools to pick up the container.
Patton said Areas admitted picking up the container for his own use when questioned.
"He may not have known what was in it but that's just it; that's the point," Patton said. "It's dangerous to bring a chemical on the bus. That can't be tolerated."
Once on board, the container somehow was jarred or set off, at which time, some of its contents were released in the form of a gas that began spewing out of the container.
By the time the children arrived at Minneola Ele-mentary School, some were complaining of itchy or burning eyes, trouble breathing and nausea. In all, about 23 students and adults had to be hosed down and decontaminated.