A North Aurora man is facing charges after police say he allegedly attacked an autistic student, rendering the 14-year-old unconscious on a bus ride back to his Montgomery home from Camelot Northwest Center for Autism in Genoa.
After the attack, the boy was left unconscious for the duration of the bus drive, more than 30 minutes, according to DeKalb County court records, and it wasn’t until the bus arrived in Montgomery, where the boy lived, and his parents stepped onto the bus to attempt to awaken him, that paramedics were called to resuscitate him.
According to a Thursday news release from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, Matthew R. Enck, 32, of the 800 block of Shagbark Lane in North Aurora, is charged with four felony counts of aggravated battery: causing great bodily harm through strangulation (class 1 felony), strangulation (class 3 felony), causing great bodily harm to a child with profound intellectual disabilities (class 3 felony) and causing bodily harm in a public way (class 3 felony).
If convicted of the most serious crime, causing great bodily harm through strangulation, Enck could face up to 15 years in jail and fines up to $25,000.
Enck’s charges are in relation to a June 29 incident which occurred around 3 p.m. on a Septran company school bus which was traveling southbound in the area of Peace Road and Pleasant Street in DeKalb, carrying three autistic males who were all juveniles from school at Camelot Northwest Center for Autism in Genoa back home.
According to DeKalb County court records, Enck was a bus monitor on the bus that day, which was driven by his mother, Terri Wenzloff.
The 14-year-old boy, who according to records has a “profound intellectual disability,” was in the rear back seat of the six-passenger seat school bus. The boy was sitting in the seat with a five-point chest harness and wearing a seat belt.
According to interior bus video obtained by police and prosecutors, at about 3:03 p.m., the boy took off his left shoe and threw it at the bus driver, striking her right shoulder and seat area, records state. The man identified as Enck in the video then immediately got up out of his own seat in response and went to the boy, squishing him with his body, according to a description of the video detailed in DeKalb County court records.
Enck pushed his own back against and leaned into the boy, and then placed his feet against the seat opposite the teen for what appeared to be additional leverage to brace himself, records state.
At that point, the 14-year-old can be heard stating, “I’m sorry,” twice with Enck pushed into him, while the 32-year-old responds, “We are done with you boy,” records state. The teenager then fell silent, according to records.
Enck remained pressed up against the boy for approximately eight minutes, according to court records, and when he stood up, the boy was unconscious. Enck placed his finger under the boy’s nose, allegedly checking for breathing, and then returned to his seat.
At 3:14 p.m., the boy slumped towards the center aisle, and was held in place by his seatbelt and harness. Enck returned to where the boy was sitting and tried to push him upright “to no avail,” records state, and the boy remained slumped that way for approximately 33 minutes.
Enck was not able to awaken the boy, and when they arrived at his home in Montgomery, the boy’s parents came on board the bus and were also unable to wake up their son, records state, at which point 911 was called and CPR was started, records state.
When paramedics arrived on the scene, they transported the boy to the emergency room at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, and he was later transferred to Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
According to court records, medical records obtained in the investigation indicated that the boy’s “initial unresponsiveness was due to aggressive physical restraint,” and that the boy’s medical condition was “presenting with unresponsiveness and extensive bruising over neck/chest/arm after restrained by aid on school bus.”
Court records state that additional medical records indicated the boy had a “red rash like abrasion, bruising to the neck, check and upper torso, neck bruising at least halfway around circumference of neck.” Records stated that medical professionals assessed that the 14-year-old’s injuries were not consistent with self-inflicted injuries “but are consistent with excessive force used in restraint.”
The doctor treating the boy told investigators he had sustained “anoxic brain injury,” which is caused when air and blood flow is restricted to the neck and breathing areas, records state.
Enck was arrested Thursday on a DeKalb County warrant issued Wednesday on the charges after he turned himself in at North Aurora Police Department, records show, following an investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Enck was released Thursday after posting bond, which was set at $25,000, and he posted the $2,500 needed to bail out of jail. He is next set to appear for a hearing on the charges at the DeKalb County Courthouse at a later date.
This is a developing story which could be updated as more information becomes available.