THE MOTHER of an 11-year-old boy with autism has filed a police report after he was left asleep on a school bus in the morning, ending up locked into the vehicle which was parked in its garage completely alone.
The incident took place in the Madrid satelite city of Leganes last Monday, when Leo, who has to take medication that leaves him drowsy, fell asleep on his way to school in a microbus with just 25 seats in it.
When the vehicle arrived at his special-needs school, all of the other occupants got off except for Leo. No one realised that he was still there, nor that he had fallen asleep.
The bus was then driven to an industrial park in the nearby city of Alcorcon, where the driver got off without checking the interior of the vehicle.
Leo was left alone for hours, until he finally woke up in the afternoon, according to Spanish media reports.
Failing to recognise his surroundings, Leo began to beep the horn of the vehicle, and was eventually attended to by a man – it is unclear if the man was an employee of the bus company.
The man said he would call the police but then disappeared and did not return, prompting Leo to begin walking the streets.
After a journey of around two kilometres, the youngster asked an employee in a branch of the Aldi supermarket if he could use the bathroom. The member of staff immediately realised that something was not right and called the police, according to radio network Cadena SER.
It was 2.22pm by the time the alarm was finally raised, nearly five hours after he had been collected by the school bus at 9.35am that morning.
The Madrid regional education department told Cadena SER that measures are being put in place to avoid such a situation from happening, again, and that an inspection is already underway into what happened.
“No one called me from the school to tell me,” his mother, Paula Aparecida, complained to Spanish daily El Pais. She has requested to talk to the school for an explanation. “But no one knows anything,” she denounced. “Not them, nor the driver, nor the monitor. That it was just a mistake. But it was a mistake that could have ended the life of my son,” she said.
Aparecida also reported that this had happened before: in January of this year, he took the bus home from school but was not on the list of the monitor, and once again got as far as the vehicle’s parking garage when someone realised he was still on board.
Today, Monday, he returned to school for the first time. “But he is very nervous, anxious, and he found it hard to go in,” his mother told El Pais.
This time, however, he went by car. “My son won’t be going back on a bus,” his mother said.