A 3-year-old autistic boy was left on his bus in the bitter cold for nearly six hours in New Jersey, and the school bus driver has been fired.
The boy got on the bus at 8 a.m. Tuesday for the ride to the Franklin Park School in Somerset County, where he had just started pre-school, said his mother, Mishiloh Akturk.
But he sat on the bus without heat, food or water until he was discovered around 2 p.m. when the driver returned to start the return route.
"I get no notification that he was even missing," Akturk said.
The manager of the bus company says the driver ignored a child reminder system that buzzes when the engine is turned off, requiring the driver to walk to the back of the bus past all the seats to turn it off.
The manager says the driver went outside to reach the back of the bus and turn off the alarm, missing the chance to check for kids who might still be left on board.
The boy's mother says her son knows how to open doors and windows, but was strapped in to his seat, so he was not able to wander.
Franklin Township Public Schools said it was investigating why the child's absence at school was marked in such a way that it did not trigger a call to his parents.
"We are very grateful that the student in question appears to be fine," Superintendent Edward Seto said in a statement. "We remain extremely concerned about what happened and have taken appropriate steps with regard to the driver of the vehicle."
--Roseanne Colletti contributed to this story