Video shows harrowing moment 5-year-old wakes up alone on locked school bus

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iStock/jetcityimage(ALTOONA, Pennsylvania) -- It's heartwrenching video that any parent or caregiver of a child would find difficult to watch: a 5-year-old crying after he wakes up alone in a locked, empty school bus.

That's what happened Friday in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when Uneisha Bradford's son was heading to aftercare on a Special Transit Services bus.

Bradford wiped away tears Tuesday as she watched her son on surveillance video from inside the bus, crying and terrified.

The video, which was obtained by ABC News affiliate WTVC-TV, shows kids exiting the bus after it arrives at the Chambliss Center for Children.

Bradford's son can be seen on the video, apparently asleep against a window, just a row behind the bus driver.

Philip A. Acord, the center's director, said the STS driver did not do a walk-through of the bus after the children had disembarked, which she was supposed to do. And the Chambliss teacher, who was supposed to walk-through, also did not, he said.

"Our teacher's supposed to walk-through [the bus.] ... Their explanation [was] she looked under the seats and said she looked for legs and book bags and didn't see anything," Acord told WTVC-TV.

"When the driver gets back to the STS [Special Transit Services lot] and she parks her bus, she's supposed to get up and go back again," he said.

Instead, the driver can be seen walking away from the bus, ending her shift. Bradford's son woke up shortly afterward.

After the child spent about 10 minutes crying and then trying to figure out how to open the door, he was able to get off the bus. He could be seen on video, wandering the parking lot until he was helped by a stranger.

"What if those people weren’t out there?" Bradford said. "Anybody could’ve got him."

The driver has been suspended by Special Transit Services, pending an investigation, according to WTVC-TV. The Chambliss worker was put on probation and taken off of “bus catcher” duty.

Acord said the bus monitors would go through another round of training.

Bradford's son was not hurt in the incident.

"He’s not getting back on the bus," she said.


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