Monday, January 5, 2009

Bus driver in case where man with CP was left in cold bus overnight has long rap sheet

From the New York Daily News, which also has a story about the church of bus matron Linda Hockaday, whose church members are upset with her because she says she left Ed Rivera (pictured) in the bus because she was going to church.

The bus driver who left a severely disabled Manhattan man stranded inside his frozen vehicle for 17 hours is a career thug with a rap sheet 28 arrests long - including a collar for assaulting a cop.

Walter Gibbs, 42, an employee of Outstanding Transport, also has been busted on numerous drug charges and for grand larceny, police sources said Jan. 3.

Cops quizzed Gibbs for hours after Ed Wynn Rivera, a 22-year-old with cerebral palsy, was abandoned in the rear of his frigid bus on Dec. 31. It was Gibbs' second day on the job.

Gibbs has not been charged in that incident - but cops say he should never have been hired to drive a bus.

"He has no business driving a school bus or being anywhere near any kids, no matter what age," a police source said.

Just over a year before he was hired to drive the disabled, Gibbs, of Manhattan, was arrested for shoving a cop to the ground on Nov. 3, 2007. Less than a year later, on Aug. 5, 2008, he was arrested for grand larceny.

Details of those crimes were not available Saturday night.

For Rivera's relatives, the details don't matter.

"With a rap sheet like that, he should not be allowed to drive a bus," railed Linda Rivera, Ed Wynn's sister. "He's not the appropriate person for driving anybody - not a disabled person, not an elderly person, not a child. No one."

According to the Outstanding Transport Web site, the company's drivers are "randomly drug tested, fingerprinted, background checked and with no criminal background."

"They all have excellent driving records and must maintain them," the site says.

The company's owner, Charles Curcio, could not be reached for comment Saturday night. In a series of exposes published two years ago, the Daily News chronicled hundreds of similar situations involving lack of background checks on city school buses and abuses that were hidden by the Department of Education.

Gibbs' dubious past emerged a day after bus matron Linda Hockaday, 51, was arraigned on charges of reckless endangerment for allegedly ditching Rivera
in order to catch a concert at her church.

Hockaday was fired by Outstanding Transport and is facing a prison sentence of up to seven years if convicted.

Rivera left his daily program in SoHo shortly after 3 p.m. on New Year's Eve, but the bus never dropped him at his East Harlem home. His terrified family called police Wednesday night.

Bus company officials were contacted Jan. 1, and Rivera was finally discovered around 10 a.m. He was hospitalized for hypothermia, but is expected to be released from Brookdale University Hospital Jan. 4 and make a full recovery.