Bus driver leaves girl, 5, at Berckmans Road stop

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A Richmond County school bus driver was relieved of duties pending an investigation Tuesday, a day after being accused of leaving a 5-year-old girl alone along Berckmans Road.

The kindergartner wandered in the heat until passersby helped reunite her with her family, said Linda Gelinas, the girl's grandmother. Emma Sullivan was supposed to be at an after-school program, but paperwork was lost and she was sent home from C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School by bus.

No one discovered Emma missing until her father arrived at C.T. Walker to pick her up, Ms. Gelinas said. All the while, Emma walked from the bus stop near one of the entrances of Augusta National Golf Club to her apartment complex, which is also on Berckmans Road.

Emma's family wants to know why the "tiny" girl of about 40 pounds was left on the side of a well-traveled road, crying, sweaty and scared.

"No one even called (Monday) night to make sure she had been found," Ms. Gelinas said. She worried that Emma might have been taken or hit by a car.

Superintendent Dana Bedden's office issued a news release Tuesday afternoon, stating he was informed of the situation Monday and that no decision would be made on the bus driver's fate until all information is collected.

Emma's mother, Kristin Sullivan, said she filled out paperwork about how her daughter would be transported to and from school during an open house Friday. She wrote down that her daughter would ride the bus to school and be picked up when her after-school program was over.

"No one at the office can say what happened to those forms," Mrs. Sullivan said.

A substitute teacher asked Emma if she rode the bus, and she said yes, her mother said.

Despite objections from other students on the bus and a tearful Emma, the driver told her to get off the bus, Mrs. Sullivan said. She walked from the bus stop to the back of her apartment complex in the afternoon heat, checked the door to her apartment and walked back to her stop.

During a frantic search, Mrs. Sullivan called the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, which was preparing to issue an Amber Alert, she said.

Emma was found by an off-duty Columbia County reserve sheriff's deputy and his wife, who was delivering flowers in the area, Mrs. Sullivan said.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

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WorriedAboutOurFuture
16
Points
WorriedAboutOurFuture 08/15/07 - 01:50 pm
0
0
I'm wondering, WILDCAT, where

I'm wondering, WILDCAT, where your boys can go that having their cell phones on the school bus isn't risking losing those phones for 365 days. Hope they aren't riding RCBOE buses.

anotherday
46
Points
anotherday 08/15/07 - 01:50 pm
0
0
My children ride on bus 84 in

My children ride on bus 84 in Hepzhibah. They go to McBean Elem. While I know there are very serious problems in Richmond Co. Schools and with bus services- their bus driver is one of the best I have ever had! Yesterday I had one of my sons at a Dr's appt. and my dad was meeting the bus at my house for the other. He was a minute late and the bus was a few minutes early. The driver ALWAYS watches to see if my children get inside or if I am at the drive way. The driver waited the extra 30 seconds for him (my dad) so my son would be handed over to an adult. Thank you to bus driver # 84 for YOU do- it takes the parents, teachers, admin, and drivers to ensure the safety of our children of Richmond Co.

I know I posted this earlier but I think it deserves to be said again. Thank you

anotherday
46
Points
anotherday 08/15/07 - 01:51 pm
0
0
Kids can have cells?

Kids can have cells?

Galan Lewis
0
Points
Galan Lewis 08/15/07 - 01:52 pm
0
0
in Aiekn county they can be

in Aiekn county they can be taken away from the child if they are on the cell while riding the bus, as well as on and Ipod, walkmand, etc.

anotherday
46
Points
anotherday 08/15/07 - 01:52 pm
0
0
and schools will give out

and schools will give out info to some one else other than the concerned party if Walker mom is to be believed

Galan Lewis
0
Points
Galan Lewis 08/15/07 - 01:54 pm
0
0
that's what she said...

that's what she said...

anotherday
46
Points
anotherday 08/15/07 - 01:56 pm
0
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interesting... The level of

interesting... The level of braintrusts we have around here astounds me everyday I gotta tell ya:)

marien
28
Points
marien 08/15/07 - 02:00 pm
0
0
I remember the days when all

I remember the days when all pre-k thru 1st grade was given a name tag with all the information on it including the bus number.My sons are now in the 11th and 9th grade I try take the day off from work just to see how the buses run morning and afternoon, just to see what time they leave and arrive home. I hope this will not make the little girl not want to go back to school. The staff should have double check to make sure all directions were clear on the forms.

Cronos
0
Points
Cronos 08/15/07 - 02:27 pm
0
0
I am completely shocked and

I am completely shocked and amazed that no one stopped to use their brains. This is a child that we are talking about being left ALONE at a bus stop?? This has got to be the biggest mess up I have heard and one more reason I will not let me child ride the bus to or from school. I am just glad that the wonderful cop was around at the right moment to get this child safely home.

keepinitreal
0
Points
keepinitreal 08/15/07 - 02:30 pm
0
0
I don't know what is the

I don't know what is the problem with the drivers for school buses this yr. My grandaughter's first day after school ended with her being put off on the wrong stop. When my son was in school and the days when there were storms, the driver could have easily let them off in the subdivison but instead choose as usual to let them off at the entrance and the bad part is that my area only has 2 streets and they are entwined to meet as though it's only 1 st. and I know that would not have stopped any progression of time for the driver. I called and called and called to the BOE and was promised action for the problem, but to no form or fashion came any results. I really believe that it depends on the driver.

I had another incident with a driver when my youngest son was thrown out of his seat when the driver did a dangerous turn or hit a hole or something, but you better believe that after I finished raising hell with the BOE, they took care of the Dr's bills and whatever else we needed to get him back in shape. He even had to go to a chiropracter for the injuries he sustained. Some of those drivers just don't care.

alex6080
0
Points
alex6080 08/15/07 - 02:30 pm
0
0
In this perfect world, where

In this perfect world, where nobody makes a mistake; and everything goes according to plan; how could such a thing happen!!!!!! That driver should have known this 5 year old and her family by first name. She should have known about her after school program. She should have known everything about every child on that bus. She should have been able to read that child's mind and determine that something was wrong!!! We do not know what happened on that bus; yet we are so perfect, that we have already decided who's fault it was. Get real!!!!!!! I know; someone will say that it was not my child, thats why I can say this. No, I'll agree that something went wrong, but I would first thank god that my child was ok. I would then speak with the school and then I would make the determination of what steps to take. A law suit or someone getting fired, would be last in my mind. Why cant we understand that this is not a perfect world, and none of you are perfect. Find something positive about this situation; the child is ok. We are so perfect, critical, and heartless; until we make the mistake!!!!

PlayaFace
0
Points
PlayaFace 08/15/07 - 02:31 pm
0
0
y'all are all out of

y'all are all out of control....

Ms. Opinionated
0
Points
Ms. Opinionated 08/15/07 - 02:35 pm
0
0
I live in Columbia Co and

I live in Columbia Co and have a new kindergartener. I dropped her off that first morning, and that afternoon she rode the bus home with her brother, a fourth grader. I was waiting at the end of the driveway to pick her up, and when she got off of the bus, the driver made it a point to let me know that since she was in kindergarten, it was his policy (not that of CCBOE) that an adult that had my permission, in writing, to get her be waiting for the bus, or he wouldn't let her off, even if her brother was with her to walk her down the driveway. So here we have a very concerned, and therefore maybe somewhat over-protective bus driver, and then we have the one's that we actually hear about because they lack the brain cells to breath. So, I commend the decent ones that take care of our children. The others, like this one, need to be punished in accordance to their crimes.

fair is fair
0
Points
fair is fair 08/15/07 - 02:37 pm
0
0
Our system puts arm bands on

Our system puts arm bands on the elementary children when they get off the bus in the morning of the 1st day of school - they wear those bands for the 1st several days - they are waterproof and use permanent marker with child's name and bus #. The children that ride in a car in the morning and on the bus in the afternoon get them when they come into the class room. It seems to be working out with our system. I don't think Elementary children are allowed to have cell phones in our system.

Little Lamb
46040
Points
Little Lamb 08/15/07 - 02:46 pm
0
0
This incident provides a good

This incident provides a good lesson. THINGS CAN GO WRONG! Even though it was the first day of school and even though the student is five years old, the parents and child should have rehearsed a drill about what to do if you come home and the parents are not there. For example, stay on the back porch until we come home. Go to Mrs. McGilicuddy's apartment. Go to the apartment office. You always need contingency plans.

MyOpinion1
3
Points
MyOpinion1 08/15/07 - 03:11 pm
0
0
I blame the driver because

I blame the driver because this could have been avoided had the driver asked questions at the school. I think the driver should be fired. You don't leave a 5 year old at a bus stop alone. Yes, true there are a lot of 5 year olds who are left alone at the bus stops, and maybe that is because the parents feel that they are safe or they just don't care. But seems to me her parents care and wants to make sure their daughter is safe. Don't they have that right?

MyOpinion1
3
Points
MyOpinion1 08/15/07 - 03:15 pm
0
0
DeborahElliot2 it is the

DeborahElliot2 it is the Drivers fault. What if it was your child? Would you say the same thing. Why is it the Drivers Fault. Come on now. The school perhaps is the blame too, but the driver should have let the little girl stay on, and then let school officials know and solve the problem that way. Not just make her get off the bus

ss
0
Points
ss 08/15/07 - 03:18 pm
0
0
This terrifies me. My son

This terrifies me. My son will start kindergarten next year and I can't imagine him being left alone like this. The office that handles the paperwork should be reprimanded in addition to the bus driver. What in the world was an adult bus driver thinking?

MyOpinion1
3
Points
MyOpinion1 08/15/07 - 03:18 pm
0
0
Beforreal learn to spell. We

Beforreal learn to spell. We send our kids to school hoping that they are safe with these teachers, bus drivers etc, and this happens. You must don't care about your kids, if the bus drove off and left them.

GAGIRL1
0
Points
GAGIRL1 08/15/07 - 03:18 pm
0
0
For everyones information, It

For everyones information, It is NOT permited for students of any age to have a cell phone at school or on the bus. My children do not have these phones ON during this time, it is only for emergiencies that they are to turn them on and call for help. And I'm sure someone will think they do not follow our rules by not turning them on during the day, but they do because they are aware of the fact that they could be taken away and they do have brains! It's called responsibility!!!

Lucy123
0
Points
Lucy123 08/15/07 - 03:25 pm
0
0
Hmm, there was a breaking

Hmm, there was a breaking news story here earlier about the child being left on the Columbia County bus. Now it's gone. Hmmm....

reruns
0
Points
reruns 08/15/07 - 03:51 pm
0
0
Oh it's gone. I just read it

Oh it's gone. I just read it around 2 pm today. AC something is fishy.

abc123xyz
0
Points
abc123xyz 08/15/07 - 03:52 pm
0
0
To "purpleprincess" &

To "purpleprincess" & "bellm1965", maybe "walker mom" works at the school or in the school system and can't tell you the whole story. Ever stop to think about that....

reruns
0
Points
reruns 08/15/07 - 03:53 pm
0
0
no its still their under

no its still their under latest news

reruns
0
Points
reruns 08/15/07 - 03:54 pm
0
0
Walker gets out of school at

Walker gets out of school at 3:10 so maybe walker mom is picking her child up. or she is a teacher and is off for the day.

ctwparent
0
Points
ctwparent 08/15/07 - 03:54 pm
0
0
I am so grateful this little

I am so grateful this little girl is safe. I wish the principal had called her family to check. That would have demonstrated concern for her students. I wish we'd had a chance to register our children before 8/10 @ 6pm. The weekend before school starts doesn't give enough time to properly organize a school of 820 students. I wish the bus driver had some compassion and caring and had listened to the little girl. I wish parents would have recognised the foolishness of putting a five year on a RCBOE school bus. She was riding to school on the same bus as high schoolers and riding out w/ untold numbers of students from all over Richmond county. All in all, thank God the child is safe. Can we use this as an opportunity to improve a broken system? An aside to the litiginous. Any lawsuit damages come straight from taxpayers pockets. What a grand plan!!!!

sousmummi
0
Points
sousmummi 08/15/07 - 04:10 pm
0
0
As a mother of a 5 year old -

As a mother of a 5 year old - I think of my own child as I read this story. I agree with the comment above about bringing a lawsuit against the school and creating a law that would make this not happen again. By setting standards and bringing issues to the table we can protect our children - even while we are away from them. Sad it would come to this - but the outcome of the story could have been much worse and instead of a saddened young girl crying and sweating (in 100+ degree weather) her parents could have been very realistically now visiting her in the hospital.
Is it truly too much to ask for this bus driver to treat this child how she / he would want another person to treat there own child(ren).
Is Richmond Cnty. in that desperate of a need to hire all "BOB's" - Bottom Of the Barrell(s)?

What a crying shame.

NedaKlugh
0
Points
NedaKlugh 08/15/07 - 05:13 pm
0
0
It is the drivers

It is the drivers responsibility to pick up the children at the bus stop, and drop them off at the bus stop. It is not their responsibility to make sure they get in the house, it is the parent's responsibility - do you think that they can ensure that every student on the bus gets into their house? Then the parents would complain that their child was late coming home from school. Come on parents - it is ultimately YOUR job to take care of your children, not the school system. Stop blaming them because you aren't there to take care of your children after school. It is not their fault that you are not home to get your kids - or you have to work because you can't afford to stay home, but you had kids anyway.

WorriedAboutOurFuture
16
Points
WorriedAboutOurFuture 08/15/07 - 06:18 pm
0
0
JHALL: You're dumb as a

JHALL: You're dumb as a hammer if you think it's perfectly fine for a bus driver to dump a 5-year-old on the side of a busy road with no adult caretaker in sight, even if you think the parents are total screw-ups. There are plenty of other ways to handle a hand-off snafu without putting a small child at risk. "This ain't my kid and somebody is supposed to be here" just doesn't cut it for anybody old enough and with enough IQ points to have a driver's license. Put better agreements in place and have stiff penalties for abusing the system, but not at the expense of the kids' safety.

Augustabelle
0
Points
Augustabelle 08/15/07 - 06:42 pm
0
0
I am a Rich.Co. bus driver.

I am a Rich.Co. bus driver. We have compassion and we care for the kids we are in charge of. After reading the above comments I feel you need to know somethings about our routes, especially the magnet (Johnson, Davidson and Walker) school routes. These routes are spread out all over the county unlike most schools where a driver has a specific area. The routes may last as long as an hour or longer, if we had to wait for each child to enter there home your kids would be getting home very late, granted as a mother and grandmother I would have been [filtered word] if that had been my child. But in all fairness we are bus drivers not babysiters and you the parent should make arangements either with the driver or a sitter to meet your young child at the stop. There are many "latchkey" children riding buses who get off and unless we ask or they tell we don't know they go home alone as many have older siblings who may already be home from school. Last year I had a 1st grader tell me his mother told him to sit on the porch until his older sister got home from drill practice, since the child told me he was alone I felt compelled to take him back to school. Lets work together for the childrens sake.

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