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Child left on bus in Buckingham sparks concern

 

An investigation is underway after Buckingham County Public School (BCPS) officials discovered an 11-year-old child was apparently left on a school bus overnight Thursday, Feb. 13.

The incident’s unclear timeline has sparked many questions about the child’s safety.

The Herald was told by school system officials Monday, Feb. 17 that no updates or new information was available concerning the incident.

Nebulous details about the incident prompted more than 100 comments on The Herald’s Facebook page. Many showed concern for the child and wondered how an 11-year-old could be missing for so long without parents or school officials asking about the whereabouts of the child.

“Where were the child’s guardians/parents and why was the child not reported missing or the bus checked after the last student got off the bus at school or off at home?” Pam Locke asked on Facebook.

Most commenters just wanted more information as the release from the school system lacked key details and the timeline includes a 24-hour gap where it seems no one knew where the child was located.

“There is a lot that is off here,” Katie Gough wrote. “It sounds like some adult mischief may be involved. Child missing for 24 hours, bus driver said got on bus and did not know why was absent from school and the mom not calling until the next morning. I think all three need to be questioned (bus driver, mom and child).”

 

 

Many others had similar sentiments as they read the story over the weekend.

According to Superintendent Dr. Daisy Hicks, the BCPS transportation director received a call at approximately 6:25 a.m. Friday, Feb. 14, from a mother asking about the whereabouts of her child.

The school system immediately contacted the Buckingham County Sheriff’s Department. The child was found on the school bus at 7:16 a.m. that morning and was reported as being OK.

Hicks said the child was not present at school Wednesday and that the school called the child’s parents to inquire about the absence.

The child was confirmed to have boarded the school bus Thursday morning, but was not present at school or in class. The student’s whereabouts were unknown until officers discovered the child was still on the bus Friday morning.

It is unclear whether or not the student remained on the bus from Thursday morning to Friday morning.

Hicks added that student safety is a top priority for the school and that alarms are in place to remind bus drivers to check the buses before and after loading students. The check is mandatory for all bus drivers.

The bus driver has been suspended pending an investigation.

The unclear timeline of the incident prompts several questions as to what happened and how the child went missing for so long. Questions that have yet to be answered by school officials or law enforcement include:

Did the child remain on the bus from Thursday morning to the time of being discovered on Friday?

Did the child have access to food, water, protection from the cold and a way to use the restroom?

Was the child a special needs student who may not have been able to exit and re-enter the bus on their own?

Where was the bus when the child was discovered Friday morning? Was it in a school parking lot, parked at a bus driver’s home, or was the child found while the bus was being driven on its route?

Why did the mother wait until Friday morning to report her child as missing?

The Herald will continue to inquire about these details and provide updates to this case as more information becomes available.