The parents of an autistic child were terrified after they couldn’t find their son for more than an hour.
Moriah Walker and Philip Brooks, from Fulton County, Georgia, said their 3-year-old was left on a school bus after the driver picked him up from Heards Ferry Elementary school on March 15.
The parents waited for their son at the bus stop and knew something was awry when he didn’t show up on time.
When Walker called her son’s teacher and the district’s transportation department, no one knew where the child was.
"It was scary," she told WAGA. "He was like, 'I don't know where he is. The computer is down so we cannot track the bus or get in contact with the bus.' So, I was like where is my son?"
The child had been left alone on the bus for at least an hour.
School district officials told WAGA that it was routine for bus drivers to check the entire bus when they enter or leave the vehicle. But on that particular day, the bus driver failed to follow proper procedure. The school has terminated the employee.
The school’s representative said in a statement:
"When the parent alerted us of her son's lateness, our transportation staff were able to immediately locate the bus using our GPS tracking system. The bus was located in our north transportation bus facility and the student was found asleep on a seat. Our investigation so far indicates that he was alone on the bus no more than 15 minutes and was unharmed."
This is not the first instance of someone with special needs being left behind on a school bus. In September 2015 in California, the body of 19-year-old Paul Lee, who suffered from severe autism, was found in the aisle of a Whittier Union High School bus due to heat exhaustion, reported People magazine.
The teen was left on the bus for hours when the bus driver locked the front door of the bus. When the Lee family initially contacted the school district and bus company, Pupil Transportation Cooperative, its response was apathetic. “We never got a single call from the school bus company. The school hasn’t apologized either. I feel like we’re nothing,” said Paul’s mother, Eun Ha Lee.