Newswatch 16 Investigates: What Happened on Bus 24?

NANTICOKE, Pa. -- A 12-year-old softball player riding on her school's team bus after a game fell on the floor after apparently suffering a seizure. Video from the bus shows she lay on the floor for more than six minutes before anyone seemed to notice.

The girl has epilepsy and suffered what her doctor called as a grand mal seizure on the bus ride with her teammates at Greater Nanticoke Area Middle School in May.

Her mother is now coming forward with her story, which includes video showing two adults on the bus doing nothing while the girl had her seizure.

Her mother doesn't want us using her first name because the Nanticoke Middle School student is just starting to recover emotionally from what she went through, and the girl doesn't want to ride the bus to away games.

"She is constantly afraid that she is going to be somewhere and people aren't going to know what to do," said the girl's mother Sharon Cullen.

Cullen is still jolted by what happened on Bus 24 back in May.

Video from the bus shows her daughter, who has epilepsy, sitting down during the ride home after a softball game.

"She then falls out of the seat, banging her head on the frame of the opposite seat," said Cullen.

She suffered a concussion and bruises. Then she lay on the floor of the bus for more than six minutes.

"She's completely helpless and alone right now and no one has come to her aid," Cullen said.

Other girls on the bus claimed they were looking out windows trying to get truckers to honk their horns and did not notice their teammate on the floor.

During those six minutes, video shows substitute coach Brian Stachak looking back eight times.

"I don't have an explanation for that. I don't," said Cullen.

The coach tells Newswatch 16 by phone, he's a high school coach who was subbing for this one game. He says no one told him about the girl's medical condition.

Cullen thinks someone should have. That's because earlier, she filled out this a required of all student-athletes. It noted her daughter had epilepsy.

After the bus pulled into Nanticoke Middle School last May, an ambulance rushed the girl to the emergency room where she was treated and spent the night.

The girl's own doctor wanted to see the bus video to see if she had a seizure, how many, how long they lasted -- vital information for diagnosing a problem. But Cullen says when she asked for the video, it took the school system four days to produce it.

"I don't know why it wasn't given to her right away," said Mary Loughlin.

Loughlin is the head of the local chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania. She says the bus video was vital to helping the girl's doctor diagnose a grand mal seizure.

"People can die from seizures. They can die if they're left untreated or helped," said Loughlin.

Loughlin says the coach should have ordered the bus driver to pull off the highway and call 911 immediately.

In an email, Nanticoke school solicitor Vito Deluca wrote that most questions about what happened cannot be answered because of personnel or privacy concerns.

As to why the substitute coach was not told of the girl's epilepsy, Deluca writes that since the incident, the superintendent, "instituted a policy requiring the head coach to maintain a binder containing important student medical information and advise all assistant coaches of its content."

Cullen says that should have been done before her daughter's seizure.

"The coach that was on the bus didn't even have a roster," Cullen said. "Let alone, any medical information."

Cullen says the current policy is not working. She says when her daughter started volleyball this fall, it took a week for the athletic department to notify the coach of the girl's condition.

Nanticoke's school solicitor writes that schools are not required to notify coaches of a student athlete's medical conditions and that Nanticoke schools continue to improve student safety.

16 comments

  • Stacey Dushneysdushney

    @SILVERFISHINPERETRIX get to know facts before voicing opinion. It’s not comparing Apple’s to oranges. How you wonder, here’s how:
    When seizures are in contact a lot of excess pressure gets put on the heart (cardio), that can lead to other issues like lack of oxygen (asthma) heading to brain, or dysrhymia.
    Definitely put in comparison to diabetes. How you wonder?! Here’s how. Carbs are an arch enemy when it comes to seizure control. When carbs are digested they turn to sugar. That sugar hits the nerves (MS) and a big reduction on ketones & neurons heading to the brain, leading to imbalance of electrolytes. The lack of stimulation on those brain waves is what causes a seizure.
    Can be kept under control with proper diet. This big trend out now was introduced over 25 yrs ago, the Ketogenic Diet. Was originated for seizure control in the 90s, but they’ve found it just as beneficial for diabetes, cardio, ms, ptsd, the list goes on an on.
    Publics lack of knowledge and acceptance/support makes it a hard one to handle.

  • Sharon Nichols-Cullen

    There are many different types of epilepsy. Knowledge is key. This story is to raise awareness of how lack of communication can cost the life of a child. Changes need occur before anything like this happens again.

    • Stacey Dushneysdushney

      Thank you. Epilepsy is one condition that definitely is unknown and undersupported due to lack of knowledge. Can definitely be put in comparison to diabetes (sugar), cardio(heart pressure/oxygen), and MS(nerves). But due to lack of knowledge gets no support.

  • Silverfish Imperetrix

    If a student has epilepsy to the point where they get Grand Mal seizures, they shouldn’t be allowed in school sports to begin with. That’s an accident waiting to happen.

    • Gina Becker

      Just because she has seizures doesn’t mean she needs to stop playing sports.There are many people out there that play sports with conditions.But when you see a child flopping around on the floor of a school bus I can say that he looked 8 times and didn’t see anything wrong with that he must have a condition himself. So with that said I just hope people would look at her as if she was your own child…

    • Stacey Dushneysdushney

      Then what about students who fight cardiovascular issues, asthma, ms, etc. As a matter of fact I have a daughter with HFA who was always involved in sports. A high school cheerleader now, does great. Plus her teammates treat her great so she does great. Same thing applies to Epileptics. Open eyes/mind

      • Silverfish Imperetrix

        To the best of my knowledge, none of those conditions bring on incapacitating seizures, so you’re comparing apples and oranges.

    • Steve Stoterau

      SILVERFISH, If YOU are saying that no child with Epilepsy should e allowed to play sports, you had better look at the number of professional athletes who have Epilepsy! It seems to me that you think there should be some fail-safe way to exclude children with conditions! Just what would YOU do if an employer told you that you weren’t up to their standards because you had too many headaches? YOU wouldn’t like it, so before you throw out stupid, idiotic suggestions, pull your head out of your rearend and learn some facts about what happened! YOU don’t have the first idea of what actually happened, yet YOU think YOU are an expert, just like the majority of people who live in FEAR of anyone who is different from them in the slightest way!

  • Ralph Turasky

    Really.. This idiot needs to loose his job. He saw a student laying on the bus floor not once but multiple times over a 6 minute period, and he just sits there engaged in conversation, not once heading back to see what or if there was a problem. He was there as the Responsible Party for these students. Sub or Not, he was on the job getting payed for a service. This is plain neglagence, and he should at the very least be terminated. I hope This girl and her family hires a good attorney and gets justice for the physical and emotional injuries this girl suffered due to this idiots incompetance, and neglegence.

    • Silverfish Imperetrix

      Great idea from another sue-happy nitwit. Yes, let the family get 20 or 30 million so the school district can tax homeowners into the poorhouse. If the girl’s case of epilepsy is that bad she shouldn’t be allowed on sports teams. Look to her parents for the blame in this, and the PC policy of ‘inclusiveness’.

      • Sharon Nichols-Cullen

        Just so you’re aware… she hadn’t had a grand mal seizure in over 2 years. Know your facts before you judge her parents.
        Sincerely,
        Her mother

      • Silverfish Imperetrix

        There’s no way I could have known that. Please accept my sincere apologies to you and your husband, and wishes for your daughter to battle and contain her illness and have a good life.

  • Stacey Dushneysdushney

    Epilepsy is so underrated. That coach should definitely be penalized! She could have lost her life from how hard she hit her head & lack of oxygen flowing in the head. No need to know of her condition to call 911.

  • 16viewer

    “The coach tells Newswatch 16 by phone, he’s a high school coach who was subbing for this one game. He says no one told him about the girl’s medical condition.” I’m sure the idiot had a cellphone on him and could have called 911 when he saw she was in distress. He didn’t need to know whether or not she had a condition.

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