A Milwaukee kindergartner, who was reported missing by his mother when he failed to show up at home from school, was later found left alone in a GO Riteway school bus after he fell asleep during the return trip.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5-year-old Cameron Smith had been in the school bus for hours when his family ultimately found him in the bus company’s parking lot on the night of January 8.
The minor’s mother, Chenequa Byers-Smith, told the news outlet that the incident left her son traumatized – though he did not suffer any injuries. She also said her son, who attends the Milwaukee Academy of Science, had been seeking help by honking the bus’ horn at the time he was located.
“It could have ended very differently had we not thought to go up there,” Byers-Smith said. The boy’s mother also said the latest time the bus drops off her son at home is 5 p.m., so she got concerned when she noticed he had still not shown up.
She also said her son’s school as well as the bus company did not answer her calls when she tried reaching out to them, adding that she ultimately contacted the police at 6 p.m. The boy’s mother said she requested that the police go to the school bus lot, but the officers told her they had to search her house first as they needed to collect extra details. Byers-Smith also reported her son missing on Facebook and attached his photos, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
And though the police had yet to go to the bus company’s parking lot, Byers-Smith’s mother and her two brothers made their way to the location, with Cameron’s father also heading there. Byers-Smith’s mother ultimately called her at 7:45 p.m. and told her they had found Cameron at the parking lot and heard the sound of a bus horn. The police had not left Byers-Smith’s home when her mother contacted her.
The men then scaled over the barbed wire fence and called the minor’s name. Byers-Smith said her son also managed to activate the bus’ lights to let his family know where he was.
“He was very cold and tired,” Byers-Smith recalled. “He was finally relieved that somebody knew where he was.”
She also said her son told her that he fell asleep during the trip home and noticed it was dark when he finally woke up. She added that Cameron had been inside the school bus for about four hours as students typically get on board around 3:30 p.m., the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“He was OK, just really tired,” she said.
Responding to the incident in a statement, GO Riteway said it had fired an employee who violated its safety protocols following the end of a shift. The company also said it would cooperate with authorities during the investigations.
Byers-Smith said she wants the bus driver and the company to be held accountable for what happened.