Sand Springs Child Gets Off At Wrong Bus Stop During Storm

Tuesday, September 22nd 2009, 10:40 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

SAND SPRINGS, OK -- A five-year-old boy was wandering his neighborhood streets alone Monday in the middle of a thunderstorm.

It happened to Kaleb Nichols who got off at the wrong bus stop in Sand Springs.

Is it the bus driver's responsibility to make sure that doesn't happen?

The simple answer -- there's no law requiring bus drivers to know every child's individual stop. School districts obligate drivers to obey all traffic laws and keep kids safe. But Caleb's mom says there should be extra precautions in severe weather.

Cindy Nichols didn't let 5-year-old Kaleb take the Sand Springs School bus home Tuesday because of what happened.

"As the bus went by, three kids got off, and none of them was my son," said Cindy Nichols, Kaleb's mother.

Intense thunderstorms pounded Tulsa County Monday afternoon. Kaleb was on his way home from school in the middle of the storm. The bus driver opened the door and Kaleb got out at the wrong stop.

"He was just soaking wet from the pouring rain that we got yesterday, and the flooding, and it was just a mother's worst nightmare. I didn't know where my son was for an hour," said Cindy Nichols.

Kaleb was only a few blocks from home, but he was scared, alone and sopping wet. Is the bus driver to blame?

"You take a sub bus driver, he's got 60 kids on there, it's raining cats and dogs, the windows are up, and again, it's his responsibility to make sure he's stopping at the correct stop," said Jack Plumlee, Sand Springs School Director of Transportation.

And it was an actual stop. In Sand Springs, like in many school districts, the drivers are charged with obeying all traffic laws and keeping children safe. They aren't obligated to know every kids' stop, but most do. Kaleb's driver was new, on this route for less than a week.

"Basically what we look at in a sub bus driver is making sure you're on time, and you're at the correct stop. It's hard to get familiar with every student in four days," said Jack Plumlee.

"I don't buy that at all. I mean, if it's raining that hard, you need to double check what kids are getting off and on what bus stop," said Cindy Nichols.

Nichols says her son is traumatized over something that never should have happened.

Plumlee says Kaleb will now sit in the front row, and the bus driver will keep an eye on his stop.