Autistic Child Left Alone On Bus 2 Hours-Starts to Wander Away

A Panama City woman is upset and wants answers after discovering that her autistic son was left on a bus miles away from his school for 2 hours, then got off and was found by a parent in the area.

Jessica Howard's 5-year-old son Gabriel attends Margaret K. Lewis School in Millville, so it came as a surprise when she received a call that her son had been found in the parking lot of Tommy Smith Elementary School, in Bayou George, about 8.5 miles away.

"I get a phone call at 11:30 at my place of work, stating if I have a son that is autistic and I told him I did," said Howard. After she described her son to him, she found out where her son was.

Apparently the egregious error was due to the bus driver and bus aide failing to walk from the front to the back of the bus to check for students that were left on the bus. Bay District School officials aren't pleased with the discovery.

"We have the responsibility to transport kids safely to and from school," said Dr. John L. Haley, Executive Director of Operational Support Services, "and we take that responsibility very, very seriously."

Haley says the bus driver and the bus aide were both fired after a quick investigation into the matter.

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  • by FaithSmith Location: Los Angeles, CA on Apr 2, 2012 at 08:48 AM
    I hope that school authorities get to this as soon as possible as this can put any child to danger. I am a parent and I'm worried and I don't want anyone to experience threatening cases like this especially my kids. As a way of helping everyone especially the parents, who still find it quite hard to manage issues like this, I found this great application which featured safety app which gets me connected to a Safety Network or escalate my call to the nearest 911 when needed, it has other cool features that are helpful for your kids with just a press of a Panic Button. Check it here:
  • by Bonnie Location: Southport on Mar 31, 2012 at 05:35 AM
    Bay County school system needs a complete overhaul, from the ground up. It is totally out of hand, and I pity any student or parent that has to deal with it.As a mother of an autistic child I am thankful that she attends a very decent private school.
  • by bill Location: port st joe on Mar 29, 2012 at 11:05 AM
    somebody needs to loose their job.
  • by Rhonda Location: Chipley on Mar 29, 2012 at 07:12 AM
    What is wrong with that school system. Do their buses have the child safety system on them, if so was it working? The child safety system is designed so that when the bus is truned off the driver has to go to the back of the bus and press a button before opening the door, If they do not the horn starts sounding until is is done right.
  • by Robin on Mar 29, 2012 at 05:59 AM
    And, if the parent had done this, they wouldn't have just been "fired", but also thrown in jail. These people should go to jail!
  • by Brenda Location: Panama City on Mar 29, 2012 at 05:33 AM
    I am glad these two were fired...Apparently they weren't fit for their jobs...I am also glad that this little boy is okay...
  • by Pat Location: Panama City on Mar 28, 2012 at 08:30 PM
    He was harnessed in, I can just see him spending that 2 hours to "escape" the harness. How terrified he must have been.
    • reply
      by janie on Mar 30, 2012 at 10:08 AM in reply to Pat
      both were sub driver and sub aide. They did not do their job like they should have or was it lack of training
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