Missing disabled teen Sarah Holder back home in Orange; family blames bus company

Sarah Holder, 17, was reunited with her family, but the incident is prompting questions about whether a bus company is to blame. (4/3/14)

ORANGE - An Orange teenager is home safe after going missing for almost 24 hours.

Sarah Holder, 17, was reunited with her family, but the incident is prompting questions about whether a bus company is to blame. 

"I'm just happy to have her home," says her mother, Laura Holder. "This is a miracle because a lot of kids don't make it home. My daughter did."

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The teen did not come home from school yesterday after the bus dropped her off.

"Sarah has cerebral palsy," Laura Holder says. "She's mentally challenged. She's in special ed. You could influence her very quickly. She doesn't have the mind of a 17-year-old, even though she's 17."

Sarah attends Palisades Academy in Paramus.  Her family says they watch her get on and off the bus every day, and blame the bus driver for what happened.

Instead of dropping her off at home after school, Sarah's parents say the bus driver dropped her off at a cemetery several blocks away. They say it is apparently what Sarah wanted, but her mother says the bus driver should have checked with her first before letting Sarah off.

"I got a text message from her bus driver, which said, 'your daughter said it was okay for me to drop her off by the cemetery.'  So she did," she says.

"We can't believe the bus driver was so irresponsible to drop her off four or five blocks away from her house, knowing that's against the policy of the bus company and the school," says her father, Bashir Holder.

The bus company says the driver dropped Sarah off at home as usual and didn't find out until nearly 2 p.m. Thursday that she was missing.  

A representative also says the driver has been with the company for five years and knows to only drop students off at home.

The company says the school instructed it not to pick up Sarah until further notice, because she had been suspended.  

Police are investigating the incident.

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