Heart-wrenching surveillance footage released by Special Transit Services in Chattanooga, Tennessee, showed a little boy in distress after waking up alone in an empty school bus last Friday, Dec. 14.
“I couldn’t be there,” Uneisha Bradford told WTVC-TV as she wiped away her tears.
Bradford watched the camera footage from the inside of the bus for the first time on Tuesday, Dec. 18. In the video, the mother’s 5-year-old was sleeping in the seat just one row behind the school bus driver. All of the children exited the bus after it arrived to Chambliss Center for Children for after-school care. All except Bradford’s son.
Neither the bus driver nor the Chambliss teacher checked the bus before it heading back to the STS Lot. Instead, the driver drove to the transit center, parked her bus, ended her shift and left.
“The STS driver is supposed to walk through, which she did not do,” said Chambliss director Philip Acord. “Our teachers are supposed to walk through… She looked under the seat and said she looked for legs and book bags and didn’t see anything.”
However, neither the driver or teacher stuck to protocol.
The 5-year-old soon woke up from his nap in panic. He soon began sobbing after realizing he was left alone. After about 10 minutes of terror, the child figured out how to open the bus door and was able to get off of the bus. A stranger helped Bradford’s son after he was seen on video wandering around the parking lot.
“He’s not getting back on the bus,” an upset Bradford said. “What if those people weren’t out there? … Anybody could’ve got him.”
The bus driver has been suspended, according to STS, and could possibly be placed on a different route.
Acord said the Chambliss teacher has been placed on probation and the bus monitors will undergo another series of training to prevent another incident like this from happening.