By Sarah Schwager
TWO primary schoolchildren were left to find their own way home after a bus driver dumped them in the middle of Cranbourne, their mother says.
Susan Butler said she had feared for the safety of her children Catherine, 8, and Andrew, 10, after they failed to return to their Narre Warren home on the school bus.
Mrs Butler said the children were travelling on the bus for the first time last Friday from their school, Cranbourne Christian College, when they accidentally got on the wrong bus.
“The school organised to buddy them up with another child on their bus but they accidentally buddied them with a kid on the wrong line,” Mrs Butler said.
Andrew said the pair had been taken all the way to Berwick before being dropped near Cranbourne Shopping Centre.
“He tried to make us get off then he drove all the way back to Cranbourne and started yelling at us ‘you’ve been on the bus for an hour and 15 minutes, if you think you’re on the wrong bus you’re supposed to tell me’.
“We got off and I looked frantically around. My sister calmed me down,” Andrew said.
Mrs Butler said the pair wandered up and down the South Gippsland Highway for 20 minutes looking for a phone or for someone who looked trustworthy, before going into an ANZ bank to seek help.
Staff at the bank got in contact with the school after trying to call Mrs Butler, who was already out searching for them.
“Thank goodness the kids were sensible enough to keep their heads together,” Mrs Butler said.
“You can’t imagine what I was thinking.
“They could have been hit by a car or picked up by a paedophile, who knows what could have happened.”
Mrs Butler said she was furious at the bus company, Cranbourne Transit, for leaving her kids stranded.
“Why Cranbourne of all places? Why didn’t (the driver) take them to the depot or the school or call 000?
“I’m just relieved that nothing happened and we’re not talking about the kids lying in intensive care or worse.”
Mrs Butler said the worst part of the whole affair had been that the bus company had denied any wrongdoing by the driver.
“They said he had gone straight back to the depot and reported the incident but when I called them looking for my kids, it was the first they had heard about it.”
But Cranbourne Transit manager David Ratner told the media the bus driver did everything he could.
Mr Ratner said the driver had told the children which bus to catch to get back to their Narre Warren home.
He said the driver had dropped them at the bus depot on South Gippsland Highway after ensuring the children knew where they were going.
Mrs Butler said it would be some time before the children would catch the school bus again. “I think they’ll go back to after-school care now,” she said.
By Sarah Schwager