Driver on unpaid leave after boy left on bus for hours
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WHDH) -- A bus driver has been put on unpaid leave after a young Cambridge boy was left alone on a school bus for hours after he had fallen asleep.
Tara Dendy can’t shake the feeling she had last Thursday when she found out her son didn't get off the school bus as scheduled.
"Something happened to my kid that I didn't know where he was, that I didn't do my job," Dendy said.
Five-year-old Reign was supposed to spend two hours after school at a neighborhood center but instead he spent three hours in a locked bus in a Somerville lot -- cold and in darkness at times.
"He said, ‘I woke up and nobody was there. I tried to get off the bus,’ and then he says to me, 'I just waited 'cause I knew you'd come get me.' And my heart almost fell because I couldn't come get him. I didn't know where he was -- he was in Somerville,” Dendy said.
Police helped find Reign and he was driven home. State law and company policy require the driver to make a full bus inspection at the end of each run, but school officials speculate the driver didn't do that.
Eastern Bus Company says it has put the driver on unpaid leave while it investigates.
Eastern Bus Company actually goes beyond the mandate on many of its buses with something called the “child checkmate” system. It requires the driver to go to the back of the bus at the end of each run and push a silver button.
If the driver doesn't push the button and takes out the key, or opens the door, an alarm sounds.
Unfortunately, Reign's bus that day didn't have the system.
"It shouldn't be happening. I'm giving you the most prized possession I own on this earth just for a few hours. And for that few hours I expect you to treat them the way I would and to protect them during that time. And they didn't do it. They didn't do it," Tara Dendy said.
Reign says the bus monitor, who would be one more level of security, routinely got off the bus after just a couple of stops.
The bus company says that monitor is supposed to ride to the end and the monitor is now also on unpaid leave.
They say either the monitor or driver or both could be fired if it's determined they didn't do their jobs the way there were supposed to.