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School Bus Driver Arrested in Death of Boy With Autism Left on Bus in Whittier

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Hun Joon Lee, 19, is seen in with his mother in a photo provided by his family.

A 36-year-old school bus driver was arrested Wednesday in connection with the death of a special needs student who was found unresponsive on a school bus in Whittier last September.

Armando Able Ramirez was taken into custody at his residence in Apple Valley, a news release from the Whittier Police Department stated.

Ramirez was booked for dependent abuse in the death of 19-year-old Hun Joon Lee, police said.

No other information about the case against Ramirez was released.

Hun Joon Lee was picked up on Sept. 12, 2015, at 8 a.m. by a bus, operated by “Pupil Transportation,” to attend Sierra Vista Adult School, according to the Whittier Police Department.

When he didn’t return home from school at the usual time, the boy’s mother Eun Ha Lee became concerned and called the school.

Hun Joon Lee, 19, is seen with his mother in a photo provided by his family.

Hun Joon Lee, 19, is seen with his mother in a photo provided by his family.

After being told her son never arrived at school, a frantic Lee rushed over to the campus, calling Whittier police on her way.

By this time, school and bus personnel had begun looking for the missing teenager, who was initially described as a student with special needs. Lee said her son had autism, and had the mental capacity of a 3-year-old.

Police responding to a 911 call from the bus yard in the 9400 block of Greenleaf Avenue, found drivers attempting to administer CPR to a student, according to police Officer Brad White.

Body of special-needs student found on school bus in district parking lot in Whittier on Sept. 11, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

Body of special-needs student found on school bus in district parking lot in Whittier on Sept. 11, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

Officers took over efforts to revive the teenager but were unsuccessful, White said.

He was pronounced dead at 4:33 p.m., a news release from police stated.

Hun Lee was discovered in the aisle of the bus, according to his mother. She described him as being non-verbal, and said as a result he wouldn’t have been able to call out for help.

In an interview with KTLA last September, Eun Ha Lee said she was devastated by the loss of her son.

“My boy is a very, very precious boy,” she said. “I don’t know other people, how they think about my son, but my son is perfect to me.”

Lee questioned how he could’ve been left behind, as there were only three other students on the bus that morning.

“I feel like, we are nothing,” she said. “They killed my son. Technically, they killed my son.”

On the day the teenager was found, Ramirez was questioned by investigators and released.

He was currently being held on $50,000 bail and was expected to be arraigned on Friday.