- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A Leonardtown area man said this week that he “just plain forgot” a passenger on a bus he was driving for The Center for Life Enrichment, leaving her on board and alone for more than three hours in the center’s parking lot, according to court papers.
James Henry Rencher, 75, lost his job at the facility serving people with disabilities, and he has been charged through a summons with a misdemeanor offense of the neglect of a vulnerable adult.
Rencher said he did not remember that the 51-year-old woman was still on the bus Jan. 15 when he parked it at the center in Hollywood, in part because she recently had switched from being a daily to a once-a-week rider.
“It wasn’t nothing intentionally. It’s just one of those things that shouldn’t have happened,” Rencher said Wednesday from his home near Compton. “I didn’t even know that she was there when I parked the bus. I never heard a word [from] her.”
Rencher said the woman had been a passenger “for quite a few years” on the bus he drove.
On that morning last week, court papers state, Rencher arrived at the center with the bus at about 9 a.m. Another employee at the center got on the bus at about 12:30 p.m. to move it, and spotted the woman lying on the floor, according to a charges application filed by St. Mary’s sheriff’s deputy Michael D. Phelan.
The woman, who has a hearing and speech impairment and suffers from arthritis in her spine, immediately was helped back into her wheelchair after she was discovered on the bus, court papers state, and she was taken by ambulance to MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital after she said her left leg had been injured.
A weather website states that temperatures in Hollywood that day ranged from a low of 36 degrees to a high of 54 degrees.
Randall Ferguson, the center’s executive director, said Wednesday that Rencher no longer works for the center.
“He’s been terminated,” Ferguson said. “We have policies and procedures set up to avoid situations like that. On that day, he failed to follow the policies and procedures.”