7-year-old boy left in bitter cold after school bus drops him off at wrong place
Staying warm is priority for Zechariah Bradley. The seven-year-old suffered near frost bite after his school put him on the wrong bus.
"He's going to be sensitive to the cold for years," said mother Martie Bradley.
"It was so cold I couldn't move my hands," said Zechariah.
Instead of his after-school daycare, Zechariah said the bus driver took him home Monday afternoon.
No one answered when he knocked on the door. With no hat and gloves, he went to the garage to try to stay warm.
"Yeah and it didn't work," he said. "I said can somebody help me."
Neighbor Renee Love had just got home when her dog started barking by a garbage can in the alley.
"So I walked down and that's when I saw Zechariah standing here crying," she said.
Cold and scared, Love took the young boy to her house to get warm and eat. Meanwhile, Zechariah's mother was frantically looking for her son.
"I got to daycare about 6:30-6:35pm and they haven't seen Zechariah all day," she said.
After rushing home, she ran into Love, who was leaving a note on the door.
"I just said to her, 'you looking for Zechariah? Is Zechariah your son?'" said Love. "And that's when she just broke down."
"I was just so happy he was in the house getting warm because I knew he was out for hours," Martie said.
To show his thanks, Zechariah had a handmade bracelet and a big warm hug for Love, his hero.
"I don't consider myself a hero or doing something out of the ordinary," she said. "I just follow my heart."
So how did this happen?
Paul Kolo, VP of Operations for Riteway Bus Service, said the driver looked at Zechariah's morning route sheet instead of his afternoon one, which takes him to daycare.
He said the company is considering a policy change as an additional safeguard.
HOPE Christian School is working with the company. In a statement, the school's executive director said in part, "We are grateful that he is safe. I am personally taking responsibility to ensure this never happens again." You can read it in its entirety below.
Kolo said the bus driver will be required to take more training.
Statement of Zachary Verriden, Executive Director of HOPE Christian Schools
On Monday, January 12 one of our students took the wrong afternoon bus and we feel terrible that the student was dropped off at home with no one to receive him. This was the first day of a new bus route for the student. We are grateful that he is safe and we were happy to see him back at school today in good spirits.
Upon learning that the child was dropped off at home instead of daycare, we immediately began working with the child’s mother and grandmother, as well as the bus company, to determine exactly what happened.
The health and safety of our students is our top priority. We work with parents and the bus company to help ensure that our students arrive and return home from school safely everyday. Between our schools and the bus company, we have several safeguards in place to make sure this does not happen. Unfortunately, in this unique case, each of those safeguards failed.
We are considering additional safeguards in consultation with the bus company and I am personally taking responsibility to ensure this never happens again.