DOUGLASSVILLE, Pa. -- A 5-year-old Pennsylvania boy missed his first day of kindergarten after being left alone on a locked school bus for nearly four hours.
The driver didn’t notice that Prince Oquendo didn’t get off the bus Tuesday at Monocacy Elementary Center in Berks County. The Reading Eagle reported that the driver then returned to the bus parking lot and got off without walking up and down the aisles, which is standard procedure.
Prince’s mother discovered him missing when he didn’t return home after school.
“He was so excited. So excited,” said Oquendo to CBS Philly. “I have pictures of him. He was ready to go.”
No one knew he was still on the bus until Oquendo called the school when the bus did not drop him off at noon. New Rhoads Transportation staff then checked the bus, which was sitting in the company lot.
“It was traumatizing to me. He was hot, sweaty. He didn’t even know who I was at first,” his mother said.
The bus driver has been fired. Officials with the transportation company and the Daniel Boone School District are apologizing for the mishap.
Daniel Boone Area School District Superintendent James Harris told CBS Philly that the transportation company, contracted by the school district, immediately terminated the bus driver.
“Generally, the drivers check for backpacks, water bottles. The driver didn’t do that,” said Harris.
He adds that the district dropped the ball as well by not calling Oquendo when her son was marked as absent.
“It just goes to show how important our procedures are and transportations everyday in the safety of our kids.” Harris said. “We don’t need to be doing anything new. We just need to do what we are supposed to be doing.”
Little Prince will not be riding the bus anytime soon. “I’m going to be driving him back and forth to school. I don’t want him on any buses at all,” Oquendo said.