Her kindergartener was stuck on a hot school bus for three hours
Every parent has fears at the start of a new school year — will my child be able to find their classroom? Will they make friends? Will they have someone to sit with at lunch? One mom’s story about her daughter’s bus ride on the first day of kindergarten is a chilling reminder of something else every parent needs to talk to their child about.
When Twitter user Coley’s five-year-old daughter boarded the bus on the first day of school, the mom had no idea of the terrifying morning about to play out.
My daughter's bus driver nearly killed her on the first day of kindergarten so here's a PSA for all parents of young bus riders.
This happened today.
— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
In a thread, she tells the story of her kindergartener, who has a rare syndrome that causes weak muscle tone. She tells Scary Mommy that her daughter’s ankles are weak and that she’s worn braces in the past. She also has little muscle tone in her mouth so she can’t speak completely clearly, but is not behind her peers intellectually.
My daughter, who is 5 and slightly developmentally delayed was trapped alone on a bus parked at the bus depot for 3 hours in near 90 degree weather.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
The little girl was stuck on the hot school bus for three entire hours before administrators figured out where she was.
The bus driver DID NOT check whatsoever when he pulled in. He just got off. She tried to get his attention but failed. She knows to stay in her seat so that's where she stayed. FOR 3 FUCKING HOURS. ALONE. IN THE SUN.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
Coley says she had an “off” feeling, as probably any mom who just put her kindergartner on the “big kid” bus for the first time would feel. As it turned out, her gut was correct.
I'd had an off feeling since I put her on the bus this morning. It's our first regular bus. Will she find the right seat? Be able to get off the bus okay? Will the older kids be nice to her?— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
The mom explains that she even showed up at the school to drop off paperwork around 9am, at which point no one mentioned her child not arriving at school yet.
I take her school paperwork in at 9. They don't say she's absent. I figure everything is fine. They'd call if something were wrong, right?— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
And this is when terror set in for Coley and her husband.
I wake my hubby up close to 11. I miss a call from school. The school says she's absent and they want to know if she's okay because I didnt call her in. I freak out.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
I PUT HER ON THE BUS AT 7:30 WHAT DO YOU MEAN SHE'S ABSENT?!— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
They reassure me she's likely in class, several busses were late this morning after attendance was taken. They're going to go check. They'll call me right back.
I expect a call in 5 to 10 minutes.
After finding out that their daughter never showed up for school and realizing it’s been well over three hours since she boarded the bus, the parents are understandably panicked.
I. WAIT. ALMOST. 40. MINUTES. And this time it isn't the secretary. It's the superintendent of the bus depot. And he's PISSED. My child. My FIVE YEAR OLD CHILD was left alone on the bus. She appears okay but I need to meet them at school. I bolt. I already had keys in my hand.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
Coley arrived to her daughter, sweaty and red-face, but miraculously, perfectly OK.
I beat them there. I watch my child walk into the school red, dripping wet, and cradling a water bottle. I almost cry. My baby appears okay. She says she has a stomachache but is okay.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
She is thoroughly checked over by the nurse while the principal, bus superintendent, and I sit in a conference room discussing just what the actual fuck happened.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
The bus procedure the driver was supposed to follow didn’t happen — which is how Coley’s daughter got left behind.
The bus drivers are supposed to do a seat check before leaving. He didnt. My daughter didn't know when to get off. No other k-1st graders (kids at her school) on this bus. This should never have happened.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
And this is when the mom realizes just how long her child was alone on a hot bus.
And then he tells me what I hadn't even grasped yet. He had left her there, alone, in the heat, since 8:30. They found her after 11:30. I am devastated and crying on the inside. 3 hours. Alone. In almost 90 degree weather. Locked. On a bus.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
Thankfully, the school took swift action and let the driver go. The little girl was given plenty of water and sent off to class.
Bus driver is fired (obviously). They put steps in place to make sure my kid can ride the bus safely. The nurse tells me that, shockingly, my child is just FINE. I let her stay the rest of the day.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
They give her lots of water. The girls who found her had ice water on hand and were dousing towels with it to put on her body. They're offering her food. She tells me she got hungry and is sorry she ate some of her lunch on the bus. I nearly cry. I reassure her it's okay.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t scars for both the child and her parents.
I ask her about her day when she gets home and she tells me about the bus. My heart breaks when she tells me that the only time she got scared was when she got cold. She wanted me. She cried for me. I hold her extra tight tonight.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
In telling her story, Coley wants other parents to understand how fortunate her family was — but that the story could’ve had a very tragic ending.
My child should. Not be alive right now. Kids die after an hour in a hot car. My child survived 3 and only got a stomachache. My child should be dead. If I hadn't of packed her 2 drinks in her lunch she WOULD HAVE DIED. Today we hold her close.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
She implores parents to remind bus drivers to check all of the seats before leaving, because her daughter survived — but another child might not.
Remind your kids bus drivers to CHECK EVERY SEAT BEFORE LEAVING. PLEASE. My child survived 3 hours but yours might not. Please. Take the extra 2 minutes. Learn from us. We were almost a tragedy. A preventable tragedy. Please remind them.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
Coley tells Scary Mommy that the story has an overall happy ending. She says her daughter is “doing great” now and has no fear about the bus, despite her scary ordeal. “Her temporary bus driver is wonderful and on Tuesday they get a regular bus driver,” she says. “The driver who left her on the bus was fired immediately after I left school and did not finish his day driving.” She also shares that the woman who pulled the little girl off the bus once it was discovered she was missing is her new driver.
For now, the mom is just feeling gratitude for her happy ending and a new awareness of what every child needs to know to stay safe on the bus.
So tonight I play with my girl. I remind her that if, by some miniscule chance you get left on the bus, to honk that horn until someone comes. And in the morning we figure out a new plan for school.— Coley (@happycloudbooks) August 29, 2018
She's okay. Somehow, she's absolutely fine. Thank you, Lord!