Five-year-old Prince Oquendo was beside himself with excitement about his first day of kindergarten, only to find himself locked inside a hot school bus with no way out, his mother says.
“I cried myself to sleep… two times,” the little boy told CBS Philly.
His mother had put him on the bus Tuesday with his name printed on a sticker attached to his shirt.
“He was so excited. So excited,” the mom told the station. “I have pictures of him. He was ready to go.”
But Prince ended up alone, locked inside the bus, when the driver failed to drop him at Monocacy Elementary Center in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, according to his mother and school district officials.
He was stuck inside for more than four hours without anyone realizing he was there. Temperatures were in the 80s.
It was only when Oquendo called the school to say her child never came home from kindergarten that the alarm was sounded, she said.
Employees at New Rhoads Transportation then checked the bus, parked on the company’s lot, and found a very confused Prince inside.
“It was traumatizing to me,” his mom said. “He was hot, sweaty. He didn’t even know who I was at first.”
Daniel Boone Area School District Superintendent James Harris told the station that the bus company had immediately fired the driver for failing to follow rules stating that all buses must be searched before drivers can lock them up.
Harris also said the district erred by not notifying Oquendo that her son was absent from his kindergarten class.
“It just goes to show how important our procedures are,” he told the CBS affiliate. “We don’t need to be doing anything new. We just need to know what we are supposed to be doing."
Oquendo says her son won’t be taking the bus anytime soon.
“I don’t want him on any buses at all,” his mother said.