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Gardner child left on school bus

4-year-old was believed to be sleeping

GARDNER — A 4-year-old Gardner boy was left alone on a school bus for about 90 minutes Tuesday before he was discovered.

The boy was picked up to go to the pre-school program at Gardner Grade School. When the kids were dropped off at the school around 12:20 p.m., the boy did not get off the bus, Superintendent Tony Whiston said. It is believed he fell asleep on the bus.

The school contracts its buses and school bus drivers through Illinois Central School Bus, he said. After the buses drop off the kids, the drivers park the buses at a lot about a half-a-mile from the school.

At about 2 p.m. a different driver returned to the lot to pick up the bus to pick up the students, and that is when the boy was found. It is believed he was found off the bus, Whiston said. By about 2:30 p.m., the parents were reached. He was on his way home to be with them by 3 p.m.

"The driver has been terminated for this action," said Frank Ciccarella, director of safety and training for Illinois Central School Bus.

The company's procedure is for all drivers to check the bus once the kids have exited and before they leave the location, he said. The driver did not do this.

"We took this very seriously," Ciccarella said. "We're very concerned about the kids. Kids are our business and there is no place for this."

Once the boy was found, he was taken to the school immediately, Whiston said. The bus company called for paramedics to come and check the child.

"He wasn't hurt, but he was cold," Whiston said.

The child had been reported as absent. A call was made to the parents, but the parents did not receive the message, he said.

There were only about five students on the bus at that time, so a small bus is used.

Whiston said he was disappointed this could happen with such a small amount of students on the bus. He said he was told this has never happened before to Illinois Central School Bus.

The parents filed an informational report with the Grundy County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Kevin Callahan said. No charges have been filed.

"The positive thing is this has made us look at things," Whiston said. "These are little kids and it just can't happen."

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