Mom blames bus driver for not seeing note - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mom blames bus driver for not seeing note

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - It was the right house, but the wrong bus stop for a 5-year-old Albany boy.

Family and friends searched frantically for him for two hours. Turns out, his grandmother spotted him walking near a busy highway and took him to safety.

5-year-old Frankie Smith gets dropped off at his home every afternoon. But Thursday, a note was pinned to his shirt telling the bus driver to drop him off at his cousin's house. The driver didn't see that note, and delivered Frankie home alone.

"You can't imagine what was going through my head at the time, like, anything could have happened to my son," said Shabreka Chappell.

Shabreka Chappell wasn't going to be home yesterday afternoon when her son's school bus dropped him off, so she made other plans.

"I wasn't going to be home. I notified the school of that, I wasn't going to be here. Nobody was going to be here to get him, so that's why I took the precautions I needed to make sure he was safe and got to where he needed to go."

Just down the street at his cousin's. A note was pinned to his shirt by his teacher.

But when the school bus came around. It stopped here, and Frankie got off.

"My bus driver left me here," he said. And who was there? "My dog, my two dogs and me."

No adults, and when the adult he was supposed to be left with didn't see him get off the bus, she called his mom and a search got underway.

Even Frankie's principals showed up to look for him. "They were out here and they were searching the streets for my son," said Chappell.

But he wasn't here, a passerby, who amazingly is also Frankie's grandmother, was driving down the busy highway and saw him.  Frankie was spotted just feet away from Clark Avenue, also known as the Highway 82 bypass. Big trucks and fast moving cars pass through. Fortunately, one of the cars moving by from Sylvester carried in it Frankie's grandmother, who spotted the child and brought him to safety.

"I saw him and my husband hit our brakes right there, turned around in the middle of the road and he was walking back up here, crying."

He was reunited with his mom, safe and sound, but Shabreka wants the bus driver to be disciplined.

"She was wrong. She has a responsibility once she steps off that bus and once those kids come on there, she has a responsibility to protect them and make sure they're safe and she neglected to do her job."

The school system admits Frankie was wearing a note and that the Bus Driver failed to see it, but say it was an honest, though unfortunate mistake.

School officials say they plan to make sure all bus drivers are more aware of any special instructions they need to follow when it comes to where children are dropped off.



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