Child left alone on Special Transit Bus in Chattanooga Friday night, driver suspended

(Image: WTVC)

A 5-year-old child was left unattended on a Special Transit Services (STS) bus on Friday night for 13 minutes.

Nancy Sutherland, Executive Director for SouthEast Tennessee Human Resource Agency (SETHRA), tells NewsChannel 9, “I’m shocked and I’ve been horrified about this whole incident.”

Sutherland says the 8-10 passenger capacity bus took children to and from the Chambliss Center for Children. On Friday night, authorities confirmed the child was on the bus, and later learned he was left behind.

Sutherland says the child fell asleep on the bus and missed his stop. After he discovered his predicament, he became upset. Sutherland says there is video showing the child acting upset. She says he tried pushing buttons on the bus to open the doors and eventually found the right one. Then, he found an adult at the STS parking lot who helped him get to where he needed to be.

Sutherland says standard procedure is head counts, both before and after a bus trip gets underway. There is supposed to be another head count at the building, but Sutherland says that didn't happen either.

Sutherland says the driver of the bus, who has been with STS since 2016, has been suspended, pending an investigation, according to Sutherland.

The STS program has been slated to close on December 31st, but Sutherland says that is unrelated to this incident. The STS program is governed by SETHRA, which is a quasi-governmental group funded by state and federal grants.

Lesley Berryhill, Director of Special Projects & Events at Chambliss, says their employee who didn't do a redundant count has been put on probation and permanently taken off "bus catcher" duty. She also says Chambliss has scheduled refresher training for all staff on Friday.

On Tuesday night, the boy's mother watched surveillance video from on board the bus where the incident happened. See more here.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off