An 8-year-old boy who was left on a school bus was found more than a mile away, walking by himself along a busy street.
“When there were four or five kids left, I noticed the buildings were different,” Ortiz said. “But I did not say anything because I was scared I would get in trouble.”
Ortiz said he sat silently in the back of the bus and watched as the driver parked the bus at the bus depot on Matawan Avenue in Cliffwood.
He said the driver did not check the bus before closing the door and locking it. Ortiz began to cry, but it was too late because the driver had left and no one was around the deserted lot.
“I was scared that I might not see my mom again,” he said.
But Ortiz knew he had to get off the bus. He managed to open the back emergency exit door and get out. But when he did not see anyone in the lot or nearby building, he started to walk.
Ortiz was found along Morristown Road in Matawan by another bus driver. That driver drove him back to his school where he was reunited with his mother.
“I drove the entire way he said he walked and I was so scared, crying the entire time,” said Maria Ortiz. “He’s too young to walk such dangerous streets by himself. He crossed a railroad track, he crossed a busy intersection and he even walked up a bridge, over the Garden State Parkway.”
The mother said she blames the school for not making sure the child was on the right bus, especially because it was only his second day at the school.
A person who answered the phone at the Wehrle Bus company said it had no comment about the incident. Calls placed to the Sayreville School District were not returned.
The Ortiz family only moved to New Jersey about eight months ago when they left Puerto Rico.
They moved to Sayreville a few weeks ago and Marco had just started at a new school.
His mother believes his language barrier is one reason he hesitated to speak up.
She said she plans to buy him a cell phone so that if he gets lost again, he can call for help.