Updated: Monitor Charged In 6-Year-Old’s Death On School Bus

Updates: The New Brunswick woman charged in the death of Fajr Atiya Williams was released on July 25 after her detention hearing. Superior Court Judge Christopher Edwards ordered the woman released with the conditions that she have no contact with children or with the girl’s parents.

Montauk president John Mensch issued the following statement on the incident: “We at Montauk Transit are all devastated by the loss of Fajr. We all extend our deepest condolences to the family and are grieving as a Company. All of our employees know that the safety of children we transport is our top priority, which is why we are fully engaged in the law enforcement investigation and support any punishment that the justice system determines appropriate.”

A school bus monitor from New Brunswick was charged with manslaughter July 19 after a township 6-year-old special needs child riding a bus in her wheelchair was strangled by the chair’s harness, authorities said.

The child, who authorities identified as Fajr Atiya Williams, was being taken to an extended school program at Claremont Road Elementary School.

The incident occurred on July 17, according to a press release from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.

According to the release, the child, who required the wheelchair, was being transported to the program on a Montauk school bus. The wheelchair was secured in the rear of the bus, and the child was strapped into the wheelchair by a four-point harness.

The release said that the child slumped in her wheelchair after the bus went over a series of bumps, and ultimately strangled on the harness.

The monitor, who, according to schools Superintendent John Ravally, is employed by Montauk, was at the front of the bus, using a cell phone with ear buds in both ears, which is a violation of district policies and procedures, according to the release.

Township police responded to the school at about 9:04 a.m. and found the child unresponsive, according to the release. After being given CPR by the officers, the child was then taken to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to the release.

The bus monitor was arrested on July 19 and charged with 2nd Degree Manslaughter, and 2nd Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, according to the release. 

The woman was taken to the Somerset County Jail, Somerville, pending a detention hearing.

Police ask that anyone with information relating to this incident to contact the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit at (908) 231-7100 or the Franklin Township Police Department at (732) 873-5533 or via the STOPit app. The STOPit app allows citizens to provide anonymous reports including videos and photos. STOPit can be downloaded to your smart phone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: SOMERSETNJ. Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477). All anonymous STOPit reports and Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.

It is the Franklin Reporter & Advocate’s policy to not name defendants until their case has been adjudicated.

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