A Peoria bus driver is under arrest after dropping a boy with autism off miles away from his home.
That boy was later found wandering a county road outside Morton.
“I can’t understand how CityLift would not know where he’s at,” said an exasperated Andy Hale, attorney at the Cleve Heidelberg Justice Center.
Hale spoke for the family of 13-year-old Marcus Mize, who was allegedly taken to a completely different town and dropped off miles from his destination.
“They asked me,” recalled Marcus’ grandmother, Bertha Mize-Jackson, “do I know anyone in East Peoria? And I said, ‘no, did you drop him off in East Peoria?’ And they said that might be a possibility, and I just started screaming.”
On Tuesday, Marcus’ family says he was picked up by a scheduled CityLift bus from his summer camp in northern Peoria.
It should have been a 15 minute ride to his grandmother’s home in the East Bluff.
Instead, it wound up being a three-hour search before he was found, 13 miles from home, alone on a county road in Morton.
“To hear that you don’t know where my child is was devastating,” said Marcus’ mother, Samantha Yates, fighting back tears. “I couldn’t even breathe. Even just thinking about it now, it brings me to tears. I wouldn’t wish that on nobody.”
That driver, identified by Peoria Police as Andre Walker, was arrested Thursday afternoon for endangering the life and health of a child.
The family says they want accountability and answers.
“This (CityLift) is a service that’s supposed to be provided for kids in need to protect them. And what this service did was show complete, callus indifference to this young man,” alleged Hale.
On their website, CityLift is listed as a service for individuals with special needs, described as a ‘safety net.’
Their buses are scheduled individually to provide shuttle service.
CityLift told Heart of Illinois ABC that Andre Walker is not a Greater Peoria Mass Transit employee, and was instead contracted through a company called MV Transit.
We have reached out to them for further comment.
Marcus’ family says they have not yet ruled out a lawsuit, but want to get the facts first.
They also want anyone who has encountered a similar incident to call the Justice Center at (844) 946-9461.