Joann Japalucci drives a bus in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. When one of her seven-year-old bus riders wasn’t met at the bus stop by his mother, Japalucci made a tough call and decided not to let the boy walk home alone. Turns out it was one of the best decisions she could have made.
The school’s policies allow for second graders to walk home unaccompanied, but there was something about this situation that left Japalucci feeling uneasy. And so she kept him on the bus.
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“The little boy stood there and said his mom wasn’t there to pick him up. Usually, she is. We have standard protocol for kindergarten and first-graders that if their parent isn’t there to pick them up, we don’t let them go. He was in second grade. I could have let him go but I didn’t feel right about it.”
Japalucci finished her route and drove back to the boy’s bus stop. The boy’s mother, 29-year-old Kaylee Macasaet, was still not there and the school had not received word from the boy’s mother. So she called the school and spoke with principal, Sherri Holler. Holler tried calling Macasaet, and had Japalucci drive the boy back to the school.
At the end of the day, Holler drove the boy home herself. What they found at home was something no seven-year-old should ever witness. Macasaet was unconscious on the couch inside the home with a three-year-old boy on her chest.
Holler immediately called police. Narcotics officers found 247 empty bags of heroin. But Macasaet wasn’t dead.
After, when she’d regained consciousness, Macasaet explained that she was detoxing. Instead of heroin, she’d taken several at least one Adderall and four Xanax.
“She was very lethargic and showed no concern for her children… Kaylee repeatedly told the officer how she is detoxing from heroin and would be fine in two days. Kaylee continued to state that she was going to lock herself in her bedroom for two days so she could sleep.”
Authorities had a relative come for the children. However, when the male relative arrived, Macasaet assaulted him. At that point, she was arrested.
“I am very thankful. By the grace of God, it worked out the way it did,” Japalucci says. “Maybe now everybody can be aware of the situation, and the family can get the help they need.”