TORONTO — Toronto police are investigating after a seven-year-old child was allegedly left on a school bus for over an hour after his first day back to school.
On Thursday afternoon, Jeff Coffin said he and his ex-wife started to worry after their son Alex did not return home after his first day of Grade 3 at Alexmuir Junior Public School in Scarborough.
A school bus was supposed to drop off Alex at his mother’s home but he never showed up.
“She asked me if my son had been dropped off to me by accident from a school bus. I’m like ‘no, no, what’s going on?’ So, he was supposed to be dropped off at 3:38 p.m. at her house, and he never showed up,” Coffin told CTV News Toronto.
The parents frantically started calling the school, the school bus company Stock Transportation and the police about the whereabouts of their son.
The school’s principal was able to connect with a manager at Stock Transportation who reportedly called the driver multiple times, but the driver did not answer the calls.
Coffin said the bus driver picked up three students after school but only two of them were driven home.
“So what happened was she dropped off two students apparently, forgot that she had him [Coffin’s son] in the bus, drove to the gas station, got gas I guess for tomorrow, drove to a park I guess close to her house, parked the school bus in the park and left my son in the bus and then went home,” Coffin said.
Alex was reportedly sitting in the vehicle alone for over an hour, Coffin said.
Coffin said as soon as the driver saw her missed phone messages, she returned to the bus, located the child on it and drove him home.
“When he got home he was soaking wet from sweat from being in the vehicle. I guess because the windows weren’t open, he was there for over an hour. If this would have been a hot day it would have been, obviously, a worse outcome,” he said.
Toronto police said they received a call from parents about their missing child and that they’re investigating the incident.
A spokesperson from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) said the bus driver will no longer be driving TDSB students.
“Based on the information we’ve received from the student’s family and Stock Transportation which operated the bus, a student was left unattended on the bus for close to an hour yesterday afternoon,” Ryan Bird, said.
“This is completely unacceptable and goes against very clear expectations of both the TDSB and the bus operator, which is currently investigating. We have been in regular contact with the student’s family and are supporting them in every way we can. In the meantime, the bus driver will not be driving TDSB students again.”
Stock Transportation said it is also investigating the incident.
“Our driver has been removed from service until the investigation has been completed,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
Coffin said he is disappointed with the school and bus company’s response to the incident and that he will likely not let his son take the bus anymore.
“They brushed it off like it was no big deal. ‘Oh, we’re going to make sure he has his own private bus driver.’ Well thanks, but you know you could have killed my kid by leaving him in a vehicle,” Coffin said.
Police have not laid any charges at this point in time.
Thursday was the first day back to class for students in Toronto, Peel, York and Durham.
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