INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 3, 2015)– An Indianapolis mother is outraged and looking for answers after her 6-year-old son was left to walk home through snow and busy traffic from the wrong bus stop. Kelly Beers says her 6-year old son, Cameron, came running home to their apartment just south of Lynhurst Drive and Troy Avenue Monday afternoon.
“I just saw him run around the corner with snow up to his knees,” Beers said. “His face was red and he was crying. I’m like ‘what happened?’ He said, ‘the bus driver dropped me off at the wrong stop and he wouldn’t listen to me when I told him I don’t live there.’”
The incident happened as buses were taking students home from MSD Decatur Township’s Blue Academy.
Cameron told his mom that a substitute bus driver had reached the last stop about a half mile away from the Beers’ home. When Cameron told the driver it wasn’t his stop, he said the driver made him get off anyway.
“I said, ‘well did you tell him that you don’t live over there?’ He said, ‘yes but he wouldn’t listen to me,’” Kelly Beers said. “And I wish I could see the video, but ironically, it wasn’t working.”
Cameron had a half mile walk home from the wrong side of Lynhurst, which meant he had to cross and walk a short distance along the busy roadway. The snow on each side of Lynhurst was knee-deep for the 6-year-old boy.
The situation was unnervingly similar to the hit-and-run accident that killed the boy’s adoptive father, Robert Blankenship, in February 2014. Blankenship was hit and killed while walking along the side of the roadway on U.S. 36 in Avon. Police determined it was likely he was walking in the roadway because of deep snow covering sidewalks on each side of the highway. Charles Parrett, a former football player at Wabash College, was the driver who hit Blankenship. Parrett later pleaded guilty to charges related to leaving the scene of the accident.
The bus mix-up brought back painful memories for Kelly Beers when she listened to the boy describe his walk home.
“He could have gotten hit,” she said. “It could have took one slip on Lynhurst.”
Decatur Township Schools spokesperson Suzanne Rothenburg said school officials were still investigating the incident.
“We are deeply concerned that this happened,” Rothenburg said. “We’re not happy about it.”
School officials have determined that Cameron rode a replacement bus to Blue Academy Monday morning, because his regular bus was down for maintenance. At the end of the school day, the boy was not aware that his regular bus was back in service. While Cameron’s bus was not included in the afternoon announcement of bus changes, nobody apparently told the 6-year old to take the regular bus home. He got back on the replacement bus from that morning, which took him on a different route.
Rothenburg said all of the district’s substitute drivers have the proper licenses to drive a school bus.
“But there are times that they may not be as familiar with the students, all of the stops that all of the students get off at,” Rothenburger said.
Kelly Beers understands why a substitute driver may not be familiar with all the children and their stops. But she still can’t understand why the driver would have made Cameron get off the bus if the boy told him it was the wrong place.
“I don’t think that gentleman should be able to substitute anymore,” Beers said. “Because he didn’t listen to my son.”
Decatur Township Schools officials say they are still investigating the incident and plan to establish additional safeguards to prevent similar situations in the future.