The parents of a Polk County special needs student have become activists after her death.
- Parents advocating for better training for school bus workers
- 14-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy died after head got caught in head rest
- Parents say workers were unsure how to respond, medical help delayed
David Gautney and Denise Williams are advocating for better training for school bus workers for special needs students.
Their daughter, Terissa Gautney, 14, who had cerebral palsy and other medical problems, died in February after her head got caught in her head rest on the school bus and couldn't breath. School bus workers were unsure how to respond and medical help was delayed.
They said Terissa died days later at the hospital.
“Obviously the staff was not equipped to deal with them. They panicked,” said David Gautney about the way workers responded on his daughter’s bus.
“They didn’t know how to take her out of her wheel chair,” said Denise Williams.
Gautney and Williams have been attending school board meetings and speaking with school staff about school bus safety issues.
“There are parents that don’t realize how vulnerable their children are on these buses,” said Gautney.
The parents are also pushing for a new state law they call the Terissa Joy Act. It would require medically trained personnel on special needs school buses.
“I’m doing it for her,” said Denise Williams. “You know I have to. She would want me to help other kids.”
“I want her to look down and smile and be proud of her parents. That they stuck up for her and did the right thing,” said David Gautney.