GREAT FALLS – A concerned mother is talking to the Great Falls Police Department and considering legal action after her five-year-old daughter was found on the side of Old Havre Highway.
Kelsie Semple posted on Facebook that she put her daughter on the school bus on Tuesday, but later in the morning got an automated phone call saying her daughter was marked absent.
When she contacted the teacher, the teacher said that her that her daughter was not in school.
Semple immediately made her way to Big Sky Bus Lines, which is located along Old Havre Highway. On her way, she received a call from the Cascade County Sheriff’s office telling her they had her daughter, and that she was OK.
In the Facebook post she wrote:
“So thankful that I put my name and number on the inside lining of her coat, I was able to meet up with him and the other families who had so graciously pulled off the side of the road to stay with my sweet daughter… She had fallen asleep on the bus and woke up at the bus depot, where she was able to push open the bus door and then run to find someone else because she was all alone. The families had said she was waving at cars on the side of the highway. And she described to me that she was ‘waving at people for help’.”?
Big Sky Bus Lines is taking full responsibility for the incident.
General manager Barbara Stucker says there is video surveillance of the bus aide checking the seats on the bus, as per operating guidelines.
Stucker said that she does not know how this could happen, and that it is possible the child was underneath a seat at the time.
Stucker said that drivers and aides go through extensive training throughout the year, and checking each bus at the end of every shift is required.
“Unfortunately, this cannot define our team. We have a great group of people who do a great job. We care about kids and care about the safety of kids. It was human error and we are very, very sorry that it occurred,” Stucker said.
The bus driver and aide were at work today, but were assigned to different routes and buses.
Big Sky Bus Lines is continuing to investigate the incident.
Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News