On Thursday, an Alabama 5-year-old boarded a van to daycare after school and fell asleep as the driver finished their route and picked up other children.
But according to WBRC, nobody realized little Elijah Burpo didn’t get out of the vehicle when it arrived at the care facility.
The bus driver failed to check the back and Elijah was marked present during attendance, for unknown reasons.
Meanwhile, he was left in the cold daycare van. He sat there by himself for at least two hours, his mother, Erica Zeigler, claims.
Nobody realized he’d been left outside until the mom showed up at Mt. Olive Monumental Baptist Church to pick him up. She told ABC3340:
“He is five years old. He will not forget that they left him. All that he kept saying last night was, ‘Mommy they left me on the school van.'”
“When the van driver came back in with my son, my son was crying and nervous. That’s when I asked him, ‘Elijah, what happened?’ I asked him, ‘You’re cold?’ He was like, ‘I’m cold.’ He just broke down in tears, panicking and said, ‘They left me on the van. I was in the back seat asleep.’”
Zeigler added that’s she happy that her son was found in time and that the situation “didn’t end in death.”
Daycare staff claims the boy was only left in the van for an hour and twenty minutes.
Regardless, the daycare center has since fired the driver and promised to add additional safety measures. The director said in a statement:
“Our most important responsibility is the health and safety of all children. We are taking this incident very serious and want to ensure this family and all others that we are committed to supporting the needs and safety of all of the children in our care.”
Zeigler has since pulled her son out of the daycare.
As Dearly previously reported, there are extra precautions that can be taken when transporting children in order to prevent incidents like this.
For extra safety, drivers should set reminders to check the backseat, such as putting a toy in their line of sight. They should also take extra precaution if there is a change to the normal routine.