5-year-old Lake City boy left on school bus

Lake City police say a five-year-old boy had to start walking home after he was left on the school bus.

Lake City school district officials have suspended the bus driver pending an investigation.

The child's parents called 911 to say their little boy was missing.

"I immediately started to panic," said Mia Brown.

Brown says a nightmare is the best way to describe her night. Her five-year-old son, Joshua, got on the school bus Wednesday from his after school program at Lake City Elementary School, but didn't come home around the time he normally does at 5:45 in the evening.

Brown said, "My son Joshua is only 5 years old. He's a little kid. He's not a big boy. I'm thinking to myself what if somebody snatched him, where is he's at? You know I was kind of upset because I had no idea where he could possibly be at."

Brown assumed the bus was just late, so she headed to work. However, within 15 minutes or so her husband called her at work saying Joshua still wasn't home.

"I was so frantic I told my boss. He said leave, go," said Brown.

She and her husband went to the school looking for answers, but got none. So they called police.

Around 7:15 a woman called officers saying she saw a little boy walking alongside Matthews Road in Lake City.

That boy was Brown's son, Joshua.

Brown said, "Matthews Road is a very busy road. You know there's cars. There's two-way traffic. There's the grade school and the high school, middle schools all in one place. You know he's walking down that time of evening. It was dark."

When police brought Joshua home, his mother asked him how he got off the bus.

"He said he squeezed through the door. He pried through rubber piece when the doors come together. You have that rubber in the middle, and he squeezed through there," said Brown.

School district officials say the bus driver never meant to leave the boy on the bus, but they suspended the driver for not following policy.

"Our drivers are trained in the procedures to follow at the end of each route and one of the procedures, one of the things that should be done is that they should check the bus front and back to make certain that no students are left on the bus sleeping," said Gloria Scott, Lake City School District.

Mia Brown understands that people make mistakes, but says this was a grave mistake that could have caused harm to her son. "There is no excuse for not checking the bus. There is no excuse. You have children on there. You're responsible for that group of children as soon as they get on that bus."

District officials say once a month bus drivers go through training and a part of it is to check the bus at the end of each route.

Lake City police say no criminal charges will be filed against the driver. They are letting the school district handle the matter internally.

Officials aren't sure how long their investigation will take.