TOPEKA, Kan. — A Kansas mom has questions after she says her 3-year-old spent nearly two hours on a school bus by himself.
“We launched an immediate investigation,” Jim Love with Kansas Central School Bus told WIBW.
The bus company confirmed that on Tuesday a 3-year-old was left on the bus after the driver dropped off others students at State Street Elementary in Topeka. Then the driver returned to the bus barn, leaving the little boy sitting for nearly 2 hours on the cold, empty bus.
Bobbe Kearns said her son got on the bus around 8:15 a.m. that morning. She said she received a call from State Street Elementary around 11:15 a.m., asking where her child was.
When Kearns told the caller her son got on the bus that morning, she was placed on hold.
“I’m sure you can imagine how I was panicking and freaking out, grabbing our coats and getting ready to walk to the school,” she wrote in a letter to WIBW. “Finally they come back and tell me they found him. He was still on the bus.”
Kansas Central School Bus said they have three steps in place after a driver is done with a route.
“We ask that they walk the lot when they’re done — or walk the bus rather when they’re done with their last pickup,” Love said.
That never happened.
The driver is also expected to do a second check when they get to the bus barn.
“We expect the bus to be walked again when they return to the bus barn or the lot,” Love said. “And we expect them to hang a placard in the rear window.”
That didn’t happen either.
Finally, a supervisor is supposed to walk the lot and make sure all the buses have the placard in the window.
Love said the supervisor didn’t have a chance to walk the lot by the time they figured out the boy was missing.
“The lot was being walked, but we should have gotten out there sooner than what we did,” he said.
When the child was found, he was sleeping on the bus. They drove him back to the school where Kearns was waiting. She said he got off the bus smiling and not hurt.
“There are so many what ifs that could have happened that, by God’s grace, did not happen,” she wrote. “I have to find a way to make sure this never happens again to any child.”
“We’re reminding the location of what the expectation is. We’ve reviewed their practice of when they’re getting out and double checking that each driver has walked the buses. They’re expected to,” Love said.
An attendant is also supposed to be on the bus to help with the children, but that person was absent that day. Kansas Central said that’s the responsibility of the school district.
As for the driver, Love said he was disciplined.