A school bus monitor in New Jersey has been charged with manslaughter and child endangerment after allegedly failing to notice a disabled 6-year-old girl being suffocated by a seat belt. The incident occurred when the bus hit bumps on the road, causing the child to slump in her wheelchair and the harness to tighten around her neck. The monitor, Amanda Davila, was charged and appeared in court.
Amanda Davila, a 27-year-old resident of New Brunswick, New Jersey, has been charged with manslaughter and child endangerment following the death of 6-year-old Faja Williams. The incident took place when Williams was being transported to Claremont Elementary School in Franklin Park. Upon arrival, she was found unresponsive and was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to the hospital.
According to authorities, Davila was seated near the front of the bus when it encountered bumps on the road in Franklin Township. The jolts caused Williams to slump in her wheelchair, and the 4-point harness securing her to the chair tightened around her neck, obstructing her airway. The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office stated that Davila was using her cellphone at the time, in violation of policies and procedures.
Davila was charged on Wednesday and made her initial court appearance on Thursday. It remains unclear if she has retained an attorney. Williams, who suffered from Emanuel syndrome, a rare chromosome disorder, was attending classes as part of an extended school year. Her mother, Namjah Nash, described her as a sweet and resilient child who did not deserve to be taken away in such a tragic manner.
Nash emphasized that although her daughter was nonverbal, she was still able to make sounds and communicate in her own way. The grieving mother expressed her disbelief that Davila failed to notice the distress her daughter was experiencing, given the noise level on the bus. The family received a call 45 minutes after Williams was picked up from their home, informing them of the tragic incident.
Franklin Township school officials declined to comment on the ongoing investigation, while Montauk Transit LLC, the bus operator, expressed their devastation and extended condolences to the family. They emphasized that the safety of the children they transport is their top priority and that they fully support the law enforcement investigation.