Metro Mobility driver fired, accused of using foul language at an autistic man

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Palm Beach County Metro Mobility driver was fired Tuesday after an incident involving an autistic young man on the way home from school Monday.

Metro Mobility is contracted by Palm Tran for certain routes and door to door service.

"He treated him like an animal," Leigh Tourino said.

Tourino's 18-year-old daughter also has autism and says she was able to videotape the incident with her cell phone.

In the video, you can hear the driver curse at the 20-year-old man and attempt to tie up his hands with a seatbelt.

"My daughter was afraid. She didn't know what else to do. She was afraid of the guy," Tourino said.

Afraid because Tourino says many of the people on the bus can't communicate.

"That is one of your biggest fears when you have a child with a disability. What happens when you're not there to protect them? You can't be with them 24 hours a day," Tourino said.

The driver is an employee of Metro Mobility which is a company Palm Tran contracts with.

"They were shocked and saddened that their driver acted this way," Mobile Mobility's attorney Neil Schiller said.

Schiller says the company immediately fired the driver Tuesday morning.

"At no point ever should a driver use foul language or try to touch or aggressively touch a client which is clearly what was happening here," Schiller said.

Schiller says the drivers already go through extensive training and testing, but now they will be doing more.

"All of the Metro drivers are going to undergo sensitivity training to deal with situations like this. We hope to take this situation and make a positive from it," Schiller said.

Parents like Tourino say the new training is essential.

"It is sad because you trust these people," Tourino said.

Palm Tran Director Chuck Cohen said Tuesday he was "disturbed" by the video.

He says they haven't had issues with the driver in question before and that the passenger was trying to open the van door which is what led to the incident.

"That method of securing the person is not what we want, but I'm not sure what I would tell the driver to do," Cohen said.

Cohen says he does not in any way condone what the driver did.

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