MARTIN, Mich. (WOOD) - A 5-year-old Martin boy was left asleep and alone on his school bus Tuesday morning, and his mother wants some answers as to how this could have happened.
"I know I can't always be there, but we entrust our kids with people who are trained -- and trained to do what they're supposed to do," said Kim DeLong, the child's mother. "And when they don't do it, it's very frustrating and scary."
The boy's school bus driver drops off all the students at Brandon Elementary, in Martin. Before leaving the school, each driver is supposed to perform a seat check, to make sure all children are off the bus.
The vehicle has an alarm in the back that drivers have to shut off; as a safeguard to ensure the seat checks are done every time.
On Tuesday, the driver turned off the alarm too soon, and that final seat check didn't happen.
"He went ahead and shut the alarm off with the kids still on the bus, and apparently, didn't do his walk-through, or he would have seen my son -- who was sleeping," DeLong said. "Apparently, (Marty) had drifted off to sleep and didn't hear the other kids getting off the bus."
Just a few minutes after the bus driver dropped the children off for school, Marty woke up, got off the bus and started walking from the garage to the district's elementary school -- about a quarter-mile. On his way, he was met by a district employee, according to Bill Miller, the Martin Schools superintendent.
Marty knew that district employee, DeLong said, who gave him a ride the rest of the way to school.
"If I would have been in a strange location and woke up at, I won't say my age -- the age that I am -- I would have been panicking and crying," DeLong said. "I can only imagine, being 5."
District officials said Marty was only on the bus by himself for about 10 minutes, but DeLong said any amount of time is too long.
"I know much, much, much worse, horrible things that have happened in a lot less time than that," DeLong said. "And that's very scary to think that."
The bus driver will go on his normal route Wednesday morning, then meet with administrators, who will discuss the incident with him and determine if disciplinary actions are necessary. They also will discuss how to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.
The bus driver has worked for the district for years, Miller said, and hasn't had problems in the past. That driver is scheduled to retire within the month.
"The bus driver is a very caring driver," Miller told 24 Hour News 8. "He's been there for a long time, and he just, he doesn't do things like that. It really bothered him."
Marty is doing well, his mother said. DeLong still loves her son's school, but hopes the driver is disciplined.
"I think I am maybe (a) little more overprotective, because he is very emotional right now, with the year anniversary of his father's death coming up," DeLong said. "And he's been kind of clingy, and he's kind of fragile right now."
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