Four year old Colquitt County girl left on bus - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Four year old Colquitt County girl left on bus

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January 17, 2007

Colquitt County-  A Colquitt County school bus driver has resigned after leaving a little girl on a school bus. The child fell asleep on the way to school and awoke to find herself alone on an empty bus in the bus driver's yard. She got off the bus and was spotted by passers by, crying and wandering the streets.

At the end of four year old Yesenia Rodreigues's bus ride to school she should have ended up here, Norman Park Elementary School, instead the four year old awoke in a school bus in driver Donald Sutherland's yard in Berlin, 20 miles from her school.

"The child was scared to death , she was wandering the streets of Berlin basically, she was standing on the street corner crying and upset," said Jody Weatherly, Family Attorney.

A woman who found Yesenia flagged down the Berlin Police Chief.

"She was just scared, and like I said my biggest goal was to calm her and to let her realize I was there to help her," said Chief Jerry Evers.

Chief Jerry Evers drove Yesenia around town looking for her home, but eventually reached the school system that identified the girl and said this never should have happened.

"Nothing is emphasized more in the training than the importance of walking the bus in fact we annually provide our driver with a statement they sign where the specific regulation is in writing to them," said Superintendent Leonard McCoy.

Several years ago the Colquitt County Schools put a safety measure in place so when the driver pulls in and shuts down his bus, and opens the door and alarm sound forcing them to walk to the back of the bus to shut it off.

"Because it was an express route from one school to another the stop arm was not extended and therefor the alarm wasn't activated," said McCoy.

The district is now re-wiring it's buses to sound the alarm as soon as the bus is shut off. It's too late for Yesenia who's being taken to school by her family because she's too frightened to get on the bus.

The driver Donald Sutherland had worked for the school system for eight years.

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