WATCH: Omaha boy finds help from neighbor after dropped at wrong bus stop
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A substitute bus driver is no longer transporting students for OPS after a 7-year-old student says the driver put him out at the wrong stop.
His parents want answers.
Thankfully, the young student remembered his former next-door neighbor and was able to find his way to the street he used to live on. Quinci knows his school buddy lives here, so he talks to the Ring doorbell to get help.
“Jackson’s mom: My bus driver just left me out here and made me walk home, and I don’t want my mom to worry about me! Please! You need to pick me up if you’re here!” he says while standing at the front door.
Madison Bilsten was home and told 6 News she had just arrived five minutes earlier.
“At first, I didn’t know what it was — I’m not used to my doorbell ringing. So I waited a minute, and all of a sudden, I just heard crying,” Bilsten said. “I ran up the stairs from my basement, and I looked and saw Quinci out there, and I know him because he used to live next door.”
Bilsten is Makayla’s former next-door neighbor. She said Quinci and his family have moved, but he remembered his old street and Madison’s van.
He was able to find this safe place and Blisten got the child out of the heat and called his parents. They couldn’t believe what their son told them.
You can see Quinci’s relief when Madison answers the door. He tells her his story: the bus driver didn’t know where he lived, so he just dropped him off.
“At the time that he got to my house, I think it was 98 degrees outside. He was so sweaty; he was disorientated — he thought he was never going to get home. … He told me that he told the bus driver ‘This is not my stop. I don’t know where I’m at.’ And the bus driver told him, ‘Well you need to get off and walk the rest of the way home.’”
Blisten called the child’s parents; Quinci’s dad was there in minutes to pick him up.
“His dad told me when he got in the car he said, ‘I thought I was lost. I didn’t know where I was at. I didn’t know if I would find you guys again.’”
Quinci’s parents are upset about the way the bus driver handled the situation.
“Just like any other sane adult in this world would do — would make sure that a child gets home safely. And if a 7-year-old child tells you they don’t know where they are, what’s your first instinct? To figure that out for them,” parent Makayla Walker said.
Walker said the school called to tell her there was an issue with her son’s bus, and they were sending a substitute. She called later, and they told her the bus had just left the school. Then she got a call from Blisten.
“And she was hysterical,” Walker said. “I could hear Quinci — he was hysterical — and I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ … I was shaken. I was so mad I cried. I was mad, and I was sad at the same time. He could have got kidnapped — he could have got hit by a car.”
Blisten said the what-if’s also went through her mind most of the night.
“I couldn’t sleep last night ’cause I just thought about the what-if reasons,” she said. “What if he went to the wrong house? What if I wasn’t home? What if he tried someone else in the neighborhood who was creepy or something? You just never know.”
According to Walker, she updated her family’s new address with the school system after they moved. She says Omaha Public Schools didn’t keep up with the change.
Walker added that the top Omaha Public Schools official talked to her about her concerns.
“They have sympathized with me. The superintendent called me personally; she apologized, and they’re working on it,” she said. “And I went to student transportation today, and they say they’re investigating it.…. My main point of doing all of this is just to make sure something is done. I feel like every bus driver needs to go through some type of training or something to make sure this doesn’t happen to another child.”
OPS officials are investigating the incident.
“Our district is committed to safely transporting more than 18,000 students to and from school each day. We take that privilege and responsibility most seriously.
Investigating the incident, the drop-off occurred at the address on file for our family. We regret that this situation did not meet our standard of care for students. The substitute driver for our contracted service is no longer transporting students in our district.
Our Superintendent, district transportation staff, and school principal have all been in direct contact with our family to express our concern and support. We will continue to thoroughly review the matter.”
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