GLADEWATER, TX (KLTV) - A parent’s worst nightmare took place last week when a mother in Gladewater could not find her four-year-old son for over 7 hours.
“The bus drivers left me, and I went to the bus barn.”
For 7 hours, 4-year-old Jase sat on the bus, buckled in his car seat, alone.
“We’re thinking he is missing. He went missing from the bus to the classroom, someone has taken off,” Jase’s mother, Ashlie Hightower says.
Ashlie Hightower arrived at Gladewater Primary at 2:00 last Monday afternoon, to pick her son up from school.
But Jase was nowhere to be found.
“They told me he was marked absent for the day, and so I immediately said ‘no, I put him on the bus, I watched them strap him into his booster seat, and then pull out of my driveway,'” Hightower says.
From Hightower’s driveway, to Gladewater Primary, Jase sat quietly in his booster seat.
Hightower says, once the children were dropped off, Jase was the only child left sitting there.
Gladewater Superintendent Sedric Clark says the bus driver drove to the bus barn where he left the 4-year-old strapped in the seat for 7 hours.
“No crying, nothing, I mean he had been on there all day long, in his booster seat, by himself, he was not starving he was not dying of thirst, he had not gone to the bathroom on himself, which is a big deal at his age, 4 years old,” Hightower says.
Ashlie says she realizes mistakes happen, but if her son was left on the bus for that long just weeks ago when the temperature was in the 90’s, their story could have turned tragic.
“Administrators, and teachers and bus drivers, whoever it is that is working with kids, should not get comfortable enough in their every day lives to not just double check,” Hightower says.
According to the Gladewater school district, the bus driver and bus monitor involved in the incident are no longer employed with the district.
Superintendent Sedric Clark released a statement saying that they are going to make sure that an incident like this never happens again. They say they are thankful that Jase was in good health when they found them.