A religious shrine was erected for Hun Joon “Paul” Lee, 19, who died Sept. 11, 2015, as family and friends mourned his death the Lee’s Whittier home on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Paul was found unresponsive in a parked bus and was pronounced dead at the Whittier Union High School District bus lot. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda/ Whittier Daily News)
WHITTIER >> Police Wednesday arrested a bus driver in connection with the death of a 19-year-old autistic student who dead after being left alone on a school bus for up to seven hours on a sweltering day last September, officials said.
Armando Abel Ramirez, 37, of Apple Valley is accused of felony dependent abuse in connection with the Sept. 11 death of Hun Joon “Paul” Lee of Whittier at a Whittier Union high School District Parking lot at Mulberry Drive and Greenleaf Avenue, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
At the time of the incident, Ramirez was a substitute driver for Pupil Transportation Cooperative, a Whittier-based company contracted by the WUHSD to provide bus service to area schools, officials said.
After six months of investigation, detectives determined there was sufficient evidence to support Ramirez’s arrest, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said.
The arrest was prompted, in part, by the results of the coroner’s investigation, Scoggins said.
Lee’s officials cause of death was not available
Services are held for Hun Joon “Paul” Lee at St. Raphael Korean Catholic Center in Norwalk on Saturday, September 19, 2015. Lee, a 19-year-old special needs student from Whittier died last week after being left on a school bus at a Whittier Union High School District parking lot in Whittier on Sept. 11, 2015. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)
Officers took him into custody “without incident” shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday at his Apple Valley home, Scoggins said.
Lee was found on the parked school bus after officials searching for him after his family reported he was never brought home about 3:30 p.m. by the school bus, as usual, police and family members said.
The bus driver returned to the bus to check it and discovered Lee, unresponsive, about 4:25 p.m., police said.
Rescuers attempted CPR, however, Lee was pronounced dead at the scene.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Lee’s parents alleges Lee never got off the bus to attend school that day, and was left alone for seven hours as temperatures neared 100 degrees.
The driver checked the bus and declared it “all-clear” prior to the discovery of Lee’s body, according to PTC officials.
The case was presented Wednesday to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which was in the process of reviewing it, Scoggins said.
Ramirez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Friday in Bellflower Superior Court, authorities said.