Local News

5-Year-Old Safe After Being Left On School Bus

Posted April 27, 2005

— A Franklin County school bus driver and a bus monitor are on paid leave after allegedly leaving a 5-year-old child on a bus.

The Franklin County Public School System Superintendent Bert L'Homme said the driver and a bus monitor did not check the bus after dropping students off at Riverside Magnet Elementary School in Louisburg Tuesday morning.

The boy, Erick Alfaro, had fallen asleep on the bus on the way to Riverside. When he woke up, he got off the bus and started wandering near Highway 561.

Laurie Wegener said maternal instincts prompted her to check on the boy as she headed home along Perdue Road Tuesday morning.

"You see a little guy walking down the road crying with his little book bag," Wegener said, "something's not right."

Wegener took the boy to a nearby convenience store and calmed him with a drink and candy, then found school information in his bag.

"He could have been hit by a car," Wegener said. "Somebody could have taken him."

Erik's father, Omar Alfaro, said he was confused when he got a call from Riverside.

The superintendent told WRAL that he is taking every measure to make sure this type of incident never happens again.

"The teacher told me, he was not in school," Alfaro said. "I said, 'What do you mean he's not in school? I put him on the bus this morning.'"

Once notified, Riverside Principal Brooke Wheeler drove to pick up Erick.

"Obviously, this should not have happened," Wheeler said. "When we think about the things that could have happened, it makes us all very concerned."

Hours after he was supposed to be dropped off, Erick and his dad had a tearful reunion.

"I started to cry," Alfaro said. "And he was crying, but I started feeling bad when he told me 'I'm sorry,' because it wasn't his fault."

Erick was back at school Wednesday after his father took him.

Alfaro calls Wegener a godsend for helping his son.

The school system said it vows to improve bus security.

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