FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP - A school bus driver was fired after a toddler was left on a bus for almost six hours in the bitter cold Tuesday.
The 3-year-old's mother wants to know how it could happen, and why it took school officials so long to discover the mistake.
Mishiloh Akturk says she put her little boy on the bus headed for an early intervention program at Franklin Park School, at around 8 a.m. Hours later, the school called to say her autistic son Adem never got off the bus.
"He wasn't even at the school," Akturk says. "He was where they park the buses."
The toddler had been strapped in his seat in the back of the bus without heat, food or water. The Somerset-based bus company, Mercy Transportation, says the driver never walked to the back of the bus for a required child check.
Akturk says there were only eight kids on the bus.
In a statement, the school district says Adem was marked as a "verified absence," so his parents were never called when he didn't show up at school.
The school says the bus driver was fired and they are investigating the incident. Adem's parents are left with a lot of unanswered questions.
"How can we trust these people?" Akturk says.
Luckily, Adem was bundled up Tuesday morning, and was able to stay relatively warm while trapped inside the bus.
"If he'd gotten out of that seat, he could have been gone because he could have figured out how to open a door or window," Akturk says.
Adem, who is expected to be fine, had just started the school program two weeks ago.
His parents are still deciding what to do about his enrollment at the school.