Two young children who were reported missing after they failed to come home from summer school were found alone inside a hot school bus at a bus depot in New Jersey, authorities say.
The parents of the developmentally disabled children, ages 7 and 9, contacted Vernon school officials Wednesday afternoon to report their kids were never dropped off at their bus stop, according to Dr. Charles Maranzano Jr., superintendent of Vernon public schools.
The school repeatedly called the bus company, MacNova, but the phone calls went unanswered. The school then contacted police, and officers were dispatched to search for the missing bus and children, said Maranzano.
Shortly afterward, the bus company owner contacted the school and claimed the driver of the missing bus had to leave the bus for an emergency and left the kids under the supervision of an adult neighbor. The driver had left the bus running with air-conditioning on, according to the bus company owner.
The owner went on to tell the school that he was planning to head to where the bus was left running and drive the kids to their destinations, said Maranzano.
The children were ultimately dropped off, but appeared distressed and overheated when they got home, according to Maranzano. Police were called to investigate, and they discovered the bus company owner and the bus driver had lied.
According to Maranzano, there had never been an emergency, and the bus driver instead finished the route normally and left the bus depot with the missing kids still on board.
The children were left alone without air conditioning for up to an hour, according to Maranzano, who called it a "cover-up" and "gross incompetence" on the part of the bus company.
The superintendent said EMS should have been called to the scene immediately due to the hot conditions inside the bus.
The bus company has been fired by the school district. No contact information could be found for MacNova, and Maranzano said he didn't immediately have the phone number for the company.