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Lost Driver Fails To Call Or Answer Phone
 
A Newark, New Jersey child care center had several hours of worry when a bus carrying students on a field trip failed to arrive at the destination.
 
Shaun Linton, director of My Place Child Care, said two buses left the facility at 9:15 a.m. to take children on a field trip to a Walnut Creek farm in Holmes County. The ride from the child care center should have taken an hour and 15 minutes.
 
While the first bus arrrived at the farm, the second bus, with nine children on board as well as the driver, never made it.
 
The driver of the first bus, after arriving at the farm and waiting for a short while, notified Linton that the other bus had not arrived.  
 
“I began calling the second driver, I tried to text her, to find out if she was lost or broken down,” Linton said.
 
Over the course of an hour, Linton said he tried to contact the driver, who is also a teacher at the center, between 10 and 15 times without success. He then left Newark to go to Holmes County to try to find the second bus himself.
 
“I drove around trying to find the bus she was in,” Linton said. “I was trying to make sure she wasn’t broken down or in an accident.”
 
Unable to find the bus, Linton called the police to see if there was an accident reported and ask that a bulletin be issued for officers to look for the bus.
 
Around 2:30 p.m., Linton received a call that the bus had been located in Newark.
 
“At that point we knew that everybody was safe,” he said. “At that point, we called all the parents and let them know the situation that the driver had gotten lost.”
 
Linton said the buses were not scheduled to return to the center until around 4 p.m. Wednesday from the field trip.
 
Nine children, ages 5 to 11, were on the bus for about five hours total.
 
“They were with the teacher, they had air conditioning,” Linton said. “She just took a scenic route and failed to communicate with anybody at the center.”
 
The teacher had been driving for the center for just a few months and had no previous issues or incidents.
 
Linton said the woman was fired for failing to let anyone know the situation. “She said she was scared after I talked to her today,” Linton said. “I still can’t really comprehend what the situation was.”
 
Linton said the children's parents were relatively calm about the situation and all nine children went on the field trip the following day.
 
“As a parent, I wasn’t happy that any children were on there for an extended period of time,” he said. “They were all calm enough to let their children go the next day.”
 
This story raises some interesting questions. If you experienced this situation, how long would you wait for the bus to arrive before taking action? Would you have gone looking for the bus and then called the police, or call the police first? At what point would you have notified the parents? Would you let a new driver/teacher unfamiliar with the area drive to a destination an hour or more away without a GPS device or printed directions from MapQuest?
 
While this is an unusual situation, it is worth consideration. Undoubtedly, the director made the right decision in firing this individual. There is no reason she shouldn't have called the center or answereed her phone - for five hours!
 
Finally, one is left to wonder why, if she was unsure of the way, she didn't simply follow the other bus.
 
 
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