5-year-old briefly lost when school sent him home on bus at wrong time

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- There were some scary moments for parents of a Commerce City kindergartner after the found out their 5-year-old boy was lost in their neighborhood. His school sent him home on a bus at the wrong time and dropped him off without anyone at home.

Diamond Gonzalez said her son, Lucius, was supposed to be at an after school program at Dupont Elementary in Commerce City on Friday, but when she and her husband were leaving their trailer park, she did a double take when they noticed a bus dropping off students.

“I said to my husband, ‘I swear to God I just saw my son get off the bus,’” Gonzalez said. “He’s like, ‘There’s no way.'”

Gonzalez said she and her husband, who were getting ready for a family camping trip, decided to stop by the school to double check. That’s when her fears were confirmed.

“(A school employee) was like, ‘Yeah, he got on the bus and he got off at his bus stop.’” Gonzalez said. “I took off out of the office. I didn’t even wait for a reply.”

When Gonzalez returned to the bus stop, she didn’t see Lucius, so she and her husband started driving around the neighborhood.

“This is a big park. There are 200 some houses here,” she said.

They called police during their 15-minute search and finally found him at the other end of the trailer park more than a half-mile from the bus stop.

“He was in the middle of the street crying,” Gonzalez said. “He kept telling me, ‘I’m sorry mom. I didn’t mean to get on the bus. And I kept telling him that it wasn’t his fault. ... It still really freaks me out.”

According to Adams 14 School District, teachers are responsible for making sure students get on the right bus. Lucius’ teacher told the family that a last-minute substitute teacher allowed him to get on the early bus despite his name not being on the list.

Adams 14 released a statement to FOX31 on Tuesday saying: “Each child’s safety and welfare is extremely important to the district and school. That’s why when we learned that a student chose to go home instead of to his after school program, we immediately put some changes in place to help ensure he gets to where he is supposed to be.”

“They’re all kids, they’re all 5-year-olds,” Gonzalez said. “It’s (the school's) responsibility. Anything can happen to a young child, anything. We just want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to any other kid again.”

The Gonzalezs spoke to the Dupont Elementary principal on Tuesday night and learned the school has instructed all kindergarten staff to work together to make sure students get on the right bus even when there are substitute teachers.

The school also promises to start a buddy system among students so they keep an eye on younger kids.

They were also told that the plan will be considered across the entire district.

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