Settlement over Student’s Death on Overheated School Bus Reached at $23.5 Million

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Parents of a special needs student Paul Hun Joon Lee reached a $23.5 million settlement with a transportation company after their child died on an overheated school bus.

ABC7 reported Monday that the two sides have found an agreement on the settlement after Lee’s parents have sued the transportation company following their son’s death.

Lee was found dead on Sept. 11, 2015 at 4:23 p.m. on a Whittier school bus. The highest temperature on that day was 96 degrees Fahrenheit. Shockingly, all doors and windows were locked during the time Lee was left alone on the bus for hours. The temperature inside the overheated bus was believed to be as high as 120 degrees while Lee was locked out.

Whittier police officers reported that Lee may have died of suffocation after being left alone on the bus for approximately seven hours.

Armando Ramirez, the 37-year-old driver of the school bus, was arrested six months after Lee’s death. He was found guilty during a trial in January and was sentenced to two years in prison. In April, it was revealed that Ramirez was involved in a sexual tryst with a co-worker at the time of the incident involving Lee’s death.

Since Lee’s death, California has prepared a newly introduced law to ensure the safety of school buses. Proverbially called the “Paul Lee School Bus Safety Act,” SB1072 will be enforced starting the upcoming fall semester.

Under the new law, school buses are required to install an alarm bell that enables drivers to make sure no one is left alone inside the vehicle. Once the engine of the bus is turned off, the driver has to walk all the way to the back of the bus to flip the switch. In addition, bus drivers are now required to receive safety training to protect the students.

By Byongil Kim