The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

September 2, 2010

Bus leaves girl, 7, at wrong stop

SUNBURY — Abandoned by her school bus driver even after telling him it was the wrong stop, crying and frightened 7-year-old Emily Webb encountered the right sort of person.

A Good Samaritan-father helped Emily until her parents were found. But by that time her mother, Deb, who waited at the designated bus stop, was frantically calling the school district and police. Her father arrived home on North Second Street to find police cars and a search under way.  

They parents are very grateful to the man who helped their daughter. Both shudder at the thought she could just as easily have encountered a predator.

Mark Webb, Emily’s father, said the unidentified bus driver from Amity Leasing Inc.’s Bus 27 brushed off his daughter’s statement that the location was not the spot where her mother showed her she would be getting off the bus and directed her off the bus anyway.

It was Tuesday, after school.

Emily Webb is a second-grader at Sunbury Christian Academy. She said Thursday she’ll never ride a bus again.

Bus service for the academy is provided through the Shikellamy School District.

Webb said he talked to Shikellamy Superintendent Robin Musto and was given only excuses.

“She’s new on the job, she said, and the bus service is contracted out,” Webb said.

Musto declined to say whether the board exercised any controls or imposed regulations on the bus company or reviewed the records of drivers.

District solicitor Jeff Apfelbaum, at the Shikellamy school board work session Thursday night, said, “I have no comment to make at this time.”

Such incidents give the district “reason to review its processes and procedures so that it won’t happen again,” Musto said at the meeting.

It won’t happen to Emily Webb because, her father said, “I’ll never let her ride a school bus again.”

He thinks parents who have their children ride school buses should be very concerned.

“My wife beat herself up over what could have happened,” Webb said. “She (Emily) was standing at Fourth Street and Greenough … thinking she should be in front of the Fort Augusta School near Susquehanna Avenue and Packer Street.”  

Webb said his wife called the school district two times to confirm that location.

She was left four blocks away and on the other side of the railroad tracks, Webb said.

Webb said Musto told him Amity had eliminated, without telling the school district, the stop everyone told Emily to use.  

Luckily, another child who got off the bus at Fourth and Greenough, Nigel, was met by his father, Chris.

Nigel’s father took Emily to the Garden Terrace restaurant at 320 Packer St. and he and the people there tried to sort things out.

“The people at the restaurant were very nice to her,” Webb said. “They calmed Emily down and gave her a pink lemonade. I think they gave Nigel a Sprite.”

Likely they called police and Sunbury Christian Academy. The school joined in the search.

Webb said he’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the Garden Terrace people and to Chris, although he doesn’t know his last name. When he finds out, he said, he’d like to take his whole family out to dinner.

Amity Leasing is located at 159 Maple Grove Road, Northumberland.  When called about 1 p.m. Thursday, a woman answering the phone would not give her name. Asked the name of the corporation’s CEO, the woman said she could not give that information without the permission of the school district.

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