The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is taking full responsibility for abandoning a disabled man on a bus. It's even changing transportation policy to make sure this incident never happens again.
Last Monday, 61-year-old Tom Fulmer was found covered in sweat and his own urine after a RIde bus driver left him sitting alone in the bus for seven hours.
"He no longer works at RIPTA. He was terminated," Mark Therrien, assistant general manager of RIPTA, said when prompted about the driver.
RIPTA's RIDE program is specifically designed for disabled and elderly riders.
Carolyn Young, Fulmer's sister and primary caretaker, says he's never had an incident during the three years he's ridden the bus.
"I will let him ride the bus again because I think it will be safer than it's ever been because they'll be forced to pay attention now," she said.
RIPTA plans to implement a "hard sign off procedure."
At each stop, the driver will be required to check that each passenger makes it to the correct location. The driver will also be required to check for passengers before exiting the bus.
"We take full responsibility that this did occur. We're taking every step to make sure this doesn't happen again," Therrien said.
Young says she's also frustrated with Rhode Island Hospital following the incident.
"He was invisible to everybody there. Of everything that happened, his treatment at Rhode Island Hospital appalled me the most," Young said.
She says she found her brother, who cannot speak for himself, on a gurney in a hallway near the emergency department. She says he wasn't given water or a change of clothes for a full 45 minutes.
Despite this hardship, Fulmer will ride the bus again Wednesday morning.
Young said she's working closely with RIPTA to reserve a bus driver her brother knows to make his regularly scheduled trip comfortable again.