Boy left on bus after school in Alden (updated)

Published 1:40 pm Saturday, December 11, 2010

ALDEN — A 5-year-old boy who had fallen asleep on the bus after school was left in a locked bus garage until about 9 p.m. Thursday.

Hemmingsen Transfer, the bus company contracted by Alden-Conger schools, is owned by Scott Hemmingsen. A parent of the child went to Hemmingsen’s home last evening and said the child was missing. Hemmingsen said he then went to check in the garage where he found the child, and Hemmingsen said the boy was still asleep.

“It was just like nothing had happened,” Hemmingsen said.

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The parents of the child said the entire incident was a misunderstanding, and the child’s mom credited the bus company for going above and beyond to help her locate her child. She said she’s not blaming the company or the driver for what happened.

She said Friday that she, the bus company and the Minnesota State Patrol are talking about a better system for helping bus drivers keep track of all kids who ride the bus.

Hemingsen said the driver is a full-time employee of the company who will have a report put into his file for not checking the bus before he locked it and left the garage. Hemmingsen said drivers are supposed to check the buses for children before they leave the bus.

“It’s something that should not happen,” A-C Superintendent Joe Guanella said Friday. “Processes are in place to cover those situations.”

Alden Police Chief Kris Harpham said he heard about the incident from the school Friday morning and then contacted the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office. He found out the bus company had already contacted the Minnesota State Patrol and that the matter is being investigated.

“They went above and beyond by letting the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement of the state patrol know,” Harpham said.

Harpham said he didn’t know what sort, if any, charges would be filed. He said there are no laws that say bus drivers must check buses, which is usually a policy bus companies use.

Hemmingsen said the garage is heated and is located about a block from the school. Hemmingsen said the boy had gotten on a different bus than he usually rides to go to his father’s house, and that the driver wasn’t notified. The driver also doesn’t usually drive the route he drove Thursday.

Guanella said the child’s parents called the school to say he was sick Friday.