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Mother says 4-year-old son left alone for hours on bus in Prophetstown

For more than three hours Thursday afternoon, Holly Lauritzen says her 4-year-old son was on his school bus alone.

“He said it was so dark and cold and he was scared,” said Lauritzen.

Lauritzen’s son gets picked up for school just before noon everyday and dropped off at daycare just after 3 p.m. When he got to daycare Thursday, he told the babysitter he was hungry, because he never made it to school. Initially his mom didn’t believe him.

“He rides one of the short buses, it’s not a long bus, it might have eight seats in it and I thought there’s no way somebody forgot you on the school bus,” said Lauritzen.

But after checking with his teacher, she confirmed, he never made it to school.

“It scares me. I put all of my kids in their care and assuming that they’re taking care of them and making sure that they’re safe and it scares me now that none of them are safe,” said Lauritzen.

Her son is safe now, but Holly says she doesn’t want there to be a next time.

“I don’t want it to happen to anybody else, what if next time they’re not okay,” said Lauritzen.

News Eight reached out to the Prophetstown-Lyndon-Tampico Superintendent’s Office about the incident, but they had no comment.

26 comments

  • Jessica

    If this bus driver isn’t fired, I would say contact national news!!! That’s bull! Poor kid could have gotten hypothermia or any other number of things that could have hurt or killed him!!!!

    • Kristina

      I agree but it shouldn’t have anything to do with the driver being fired. It should be national news anyway. This is the reason all bus drivers have a bad rap. Just because some are bad doesn’t mean they all are. I’m just happy to hear he was ok!

    • Patricia Neff

      I drive a school bus and this just makes me sick !
      That Driver was not doing their job !
      That poor baby & thank goodness he’s ok because he could of been hurt of killed.
      Press charges on that Bus Driver !

  • Lynne

    Same thing happened to me with my son and Johannes taking him to a speech preschool in Moline. He fell asleep in the back of the little bus, driver never checked to see if he got off. Luckily, it wasn’t 4 hours (and it was winter), but 2 hours was way too long, as well. You can believe the heck I raised, and the driver and the aide on the bus both lost their job.

  • Cecilia

    Why wasn’t the Parents contacted that the child wasn’t in class,If the Parents did call off the child from School shouldn’t someone be checking on the child???

    • Jessi

      daycares dont call if a child isnt in class they just assume the child is sick or with their parents. my son goes to daycare and if i dont call then they assume he isnt coming unless he is clocked in by me.

    • Kandice

      Pre school dont have to take attendance which makes no sense to me. Im from tampico which is the same district prophetstown and my daughters pre k teachers would get on the bus to make sure the kids all got off and if they werent in school they would call. So the driver and the school are at fault. The poor little guy couldnt get his seatbelt off. It makes me sick.

  • Helen

    I believe it is the drivers fault, as the aides/monitors fault as well, if a child is left on the bus. These bus companies train their employes that the safety of children come first (at least at the family owned Johannes Bus), and the driver and aide are responsible for the children. I don’t think this specific incident was JBS, but you can bet if it was they’d fire that driver ASAP. (I know this because a cousin of mine worked for them.) not to mention- once the route is over, the driver is SUPPOSE to check their bus for children that may have stayed on the bus or fallen asleep. I feel sorry for the parents of this child and I feel bad this happened to the boy. An apology from the bus driver better be in order and I’d say fire him, too.

  • Justin C.

    This is appalling. How does this happen and where is the schools response? Do not tell me hey are downstate for the girls basketball final, this is the life of a four year old in sub zero temperatures! Imagine if he tried to get out and was subjected to exposure. Outrage!

    • Kandice

      The superintenant was the first to get awarded at metal tonight at the game. He is an a**hole always has been!

      • Ron

        Yes he is Kandice. I’m glad that I wasn’t the only one to take note of that. I wanted to throw something at my TV. At best he should of been the last one getting a medalion. He had not a thing to do w/ them girls going to state. And if he says differt, I will be happy to go toe to toe w/ him!

  • chip

    As a driver of little its common for them to fall asleep. That’s why newer busses have an alarm that sounds if you don’t walk to the back and open door or push button. Its suppose to make sure no child is left on but the driver still needs to look in seats. Either it was an old bus and they didnt even check or its a new one and they just didnt look. Either way its drivers like this that make all of us look bad.

  • Karin A Kromer Herrell

    My Grandson was left on the bus at age 3! It is a state law for automatic dismisal of the bus driver. Felt bad for her, but part of her job is checking off a list of every child getting off the bus and pushing a button at the back of the bus saying you checked it!

  • Kathy

    This driver should have done a walk through and checked on the head count. All he had to do was walk to back door after children are off and check each seat and under each. Always count. Thirty seconds and this would not have happened.

  • Teresa Hollars

    I drive a schoolbus for JBS. It doesn’t make any sense to me how a child could be left on a bus. The monitor and bus driver are BOTH supposed to walk the bus after they are dropped off at school, and when the last student is dropped off at home and again when the bus gets back to the bus yard. Once you shut the bus off you then check bus and push a button in back of bus to shut off the alarm stating you have checked. Its NOT hard to do. JUST get off your lazy BUTT and walk the bus.

  • Stephanie McLean

    I live near Prophetstown and find it interesting that this story never made the local newspaper.

    • Vern

      I’m sharing this video clip. others need to know that something like this should not happen. there are safe guards to prevent situations like this.

  • Vern

    What happened to the the “No child left behind act” ???? here in Rockford, IL we have an alarm on our buses. when we turn the bus off we have to go deactivate the alarm. but before then. after all my kids are off the bus, I pull the bus off to the side of the road and I make sure there are no more kids on the bus. then when the bus is back at the bus barn is when the alarm check takes place. so you see we have two chances to make sure, (1) no kids are on the bus, and (2) no items were left behind. why did this driver not do that? I thought it was a state requirement. If not, it should be.

  • Diane P. Stremlau

    Any child in the care of a bus driver should be protected under the same DCFS Standards that govern a daycare. There should be a bus monitor on the preschool buses and those that transport children with behavioral issues. This allows the driver to concentrate on the bus route and creates a safer environment. Both the driver and monitor should be responsible for taking attendance as the children enter and exit the bus, report any absent children to the teacher and have the teacher sign for the children. The bus should be inspected by both responsible parties then they sign off.If this were my child I would pursue legal channels. Kids count ! Everyone.

    • For the love of children, Diane

      Unfortunately each school district is as affective as the people/parents who reside in the area. Parents are the voice for their children and must take an active role in the decisions that affect their “little ones’ lives”. One must make the time to attend meetings (especially board meetings where school policy is set). If there is an issue that concerns you, meet, greet and get an answer. If you are not satisfied seek out an advocate. Bus monitors should be present on each and every bus to maintain discipline,for noise control and to guarantee that each child is taken safely to their appointed destination. No child should be subjected to the emotional, psychological or physical harm that being abandoned anywhere, especially a “school bus” that is self- contained.It’s a small area which is easily monitored. Stand up for all children, they’re are future.I applaud and support the bus drivers who perform their jobs as true professionals. Thank-you for caring for our children.

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