Bus Driver Leaves 8 Year-Old On Side Of Highway, Miles From Home

6:00 PM, Sep 21, 2012   |    comments
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Estes Park, CO-- Every day, Melissa Bean waits for her son Aiden to return home from kindergarten.

He has gotten used to the routine of getting off the school bus right in front of his home along Devil's Gulch Road. But, Tuesday, the bus never showed up.

"I started getting increasingly worried, because the bus was not coming; nobody had called or anything," Bean, mother of Aiden, said.

Instead, a man drove up with Aiden in his car nearly an hour later. He said he found the little boy crying in a ditch along the side of Highway 34, about eight miles from home.

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"Thank God there are still good Samaritans out there," Bean said.

While this story does have a happy ending, Bean wonders how this could've happened, especially since school officials made a specific point about bus safety for kindergarten students at the beginning of the school year.

"They re-assured me that they keep an extra eye on the kindergartners, and that they will not let them off the school bus unless a parent is there," Bean explained.

The Estes Park School District wants to know why district policies were not followed.

"Absolutely, [it's a] very serious incident, something we didn't take lightly, something that we are working to remedy at this time," said John Bryant, director of educational services for the Estes Park School District.

Bryant says on Tuesday, Aiden's bus had a substitute driver. The driver apparently got confused about the route and started going the wrong way. That's when he apparently dropped off a number of students at a different school bus stop on Highway 34 near the town of Drake.

Bean says her 5-year-old son was confused.

"When I asked him 'why did you get off the bus there when that wasn't your house?' He said 'I didn't know what to do and the bus driver did not care,'" Bean said.

She reported the incident to the Larimer County Sheriff's Department and talked with transportation officials with the school district.

"The bus driver as well as the director of transportation both called the parent and apologized for the incident," Bryant said.

Initially, Bean says she was told that the substitute bus driver received a strict warning.

"If that means that he does not have the ability to drive kids around, then yes, I am satisfied with that," Bean said.

Then, things changed.

"Since then, that bus driver has actually resigned," Bryant said.

Bean is thankful her son is okay. She credits the man, who apparently has two students of his own, with saving her son. She does not even know who he is. He apparently found Aiden's home because the man's children remembered where he was supposed to get off the bus.

"I wish I knew the gentleman's name," Bean said. "I was so flustered and upset and worried when he pulled up, I didn't even ask a name."

School district policy states that if there's any question about where a child is being delivered by the school bus, the driver is supposed to keep the child on the bus and return to district headquarters so parents can be notified.

Bean says her son still wants to ride the bus.

"You essentially trust these people with your child's life," Bean said. "I just tried to tell him if anything like this ever happens again, you just don't get off the bus."


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