INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- “I was like crying because I was really scared,” 8-year-old Jacob Simsheuser recalled of his terrifying first ever bus ride home from school.
The boy was dropped off in an Independence neighborhood he’d sever seen before Tuesday, with no adults around.
Simsheuser lived a block from the school where he went to second grade and always walked. That meant Tuesday was the first time he boarded a bus at a corner near his home.
The bus made a stop that afternoon 1.5 miles from his home, and Simsheuser got off the bus.
“It looked like the street I got on the bus in the morning,” he said.
Simsheuser was at the corner of 31st Street and Northern Boulevard.
“I drove by and I seen the little boy crying here on the corner, but I didn’t think anything of it,” Dolores Townsend said.
Making matters worse, none of the parents of the other elementary school kids who lived near that bus stop were home.
“I was looking if one of the three kids I was with had a phone and one of them did, so I called my mom," Simsheuser said.
“I called the school, I told her I was freaking out and I couldn’t find it on Google Maps, I didn’t know where they were,” Jacob's mother Heather Egnor said.
The school’s principal used the other child’s name to track down Jacob's location, and picked him up herself and drove him home.
“It was the scariest 30 minutes of my life so far, not knowing where your kid is, you are trusting the school to drop him off at his bus stop where you have somebody there waiting for him and he doesn’t get there,” Egnor said.
With many students attending new schools for the summer and altered routes, drivers are supposed to check student's bus slips to make sure to get them to the right location. Egnor wants to make sure it’s a responsibility school bus drivers takes seriously.
"We take student safety very seriously and are reviewing policies with our transportation department to ensure students get off the bus at their assigned stop," Independence School District spokesperson Jana Corrie said.
"We are proud of our staff that immediately jumped in to make sure the student made it home safely."
“We’re just lucky with as many sexual offenders as there are in Independence, God knows what could’ve happened,” Egnor said.