ELIDA — While a surveillance video showed an Elida bus driver simply didn’t see the preschooler left on a bus last month, school officials took the incident seriously.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we could not tolerate, even though it was not intentional, that kind of neglect,” Superintendent Don Diglia said Thursday.
The incident happened the morning of Jan. 29 and driver John McDermid was immediately suspended without pay. A disciplinary hearing was planned for Feb. 1, but he resigned Jan. 31. McDermid declined to comment when contacted by The Lima News. He has been a bus driver for the district for a year and a half.
Diglia said surveillance video showed McDermid checked the school bus as drivers are supposed to but did not see the child, who was sitting in the seat behind the driver. Thirteen minutes later, another bus driver saw the child, who had moved up to the driver’s seat and was looking out the window. The keys were not in the bus.
“The driver actually did what he was supposed to do,” Diglia said. “He turned the bus off, got out of his seat, walked all the way to the back of the bus, checked the seats, and just because he was a small child and did not say anything, just missed him.”
McDermid had already dropped pupils off at the elementary school and would have next been headed to the high school, where the preschool program is housed. He checked the bus and since thought no one was left, drove the bus to the bus garage.
Another driver walked by and noticed the boy. Diglia said the boy was crying when the driver found him. The video, he said, showed that he had not been upset for the first 10 minutes when the camera was still operating. Officials know it was only three minutes later until he was discovered, Diglia said, because the driver who saw the boy restarted the bus, which reactivated the camera.
Diglia said the boy’s parents were contacted immediately.
“Obviously, they were concerned,” he said. “It could have turned out a lot of different ways, but fortunately for the boy, the other driver walked by and saw him.”
Diglia said he cannot remember an incident like this happening before at Elida.