5-year-old boy left on school bus for 4 hours in Berks County

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AMITY TOWSNHIP, Pa.– A 5-year-old boy headed to his first day of school was left on a school bus for 4 hours on Tuesday.

According to the Reading Eagle, Prince Oquendo was locked on a school bus for four hours after being overlooked by a school bus driver.

Oquendo was set to attend his first day of school in the Daniel Boone School District, aiming to be in the morning session of Kindergarten.

Oquendo boarded the bus with his older sisters and other children, who were dropped off at Amity Elementary Center. Prince was the lone kindergartner on the bus headed to Kindergarten at Monocacy Elementary Center.

When the driver didn’t notice Prince on the bus, they proceeded to drive back to a bus parking lot at New Rhoads Transportation, the company that handles the school district’s busing.

The driver proceeded to get off the bus without walking up and down the aisles, which is standard procedure, according to owner of New Rhoads, Steve Rhoads. This left Oquendo locked in the bus for several hours.

Rhoads said the driver, who was not identified, was immediately fired after the incident was discovered. “There’s no excuse for it,” he told the Reading Eagle.

The situation was only discovered after the bus that was to drop him off at home around noon — a different bus — didn’t show up.

Oquendo’s mother immediately called the school and found out that he hadn’t gotten on that bus. She thought he had been waiting at school, but he was nowhere to be found.

“I was beyond irate,” she told the Reading Eagle. “He told me he cried himself to sleep to make the time go faster until someone found him.”

Oquendo felt the effects of the heat, with his mother describing him as “out of it” and took him to the hospital.

The boy missed school Wednesday, with his stomach hurting and both he and his mom very wary after the ordeal.

When he finally makes his first trip to school, his mother says it won’t be on a bus.

James Harris, the Daniel Boone superintendent, expressed sorrow over the incident, saying that the district shares in the blame after “dropping the ball.”

Normally, parents receive a phone call if their child is reported absent, Harris told the Reading Eagle. However, with the hectic nature of the first day of school, that didn’t happen Tuesday.

Harris said everyone involved is “very sorry” and have apologized profusely to the student and his parents, while also expressing happiness that the situation didn’t end up worse.

However, Oquendo’s mother is not pleased with the apology, saying that it is too little, too late.