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6-year-old boy misses stop and get stuck on school bus for hours

(MGN)

A family is reeling after their son didn’t get off at his bus stop and ended up being driven around for nearly two hours.

“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. I can’t find my kid,” Pablo Lopez said.

Lopez was at work when he got the dreaded call.

“My mom calls me and says Nicholas never got off the bus,” he said. “She also asked the bus driver three times, 'Was Nicholas in the bus?' She entered the bus to see if he was in there, but panicked when she saw no child.”

It was the end of the first day of school at Jupiter Farms Elementary school and his 6-year-old child was nowhere to be found.

April Stack said her son’s bus was already running about 20 minutes late and they were getting mixed messages from Nicholas’ classmates on whether or not he was actually on the bus.

"Panic, utter panic because we didn’t know where he was. We had no idea,” she said. “We thought he was supposed to ride the bus. We went to school to see if he was at parent pickup.”

The family also called 911 because they weren’t sure if their first grader may be wandering around the city.

For nearly two hours, the parents waited in agony as the district, school police and the sheriff’s office searched for their son.

“They were having a hard time getting ahold of the bus driver,” Stack said. “They were frustrated. The transportation department called and apologized to me they said they were fielding thousands of calls that day for various reasons.”

In response to CBS12 News' request for information, the district released the following statement:

The driver notified dispatch who looked up the parents contact info and phoned the parent. The parent agreed to meet the driver instead of the child being returned to school. The driver had to complete her route before meeting up with the parent. She brought the child to the front of the bus until reuniting him with his mother.

But Nicholas’ parents say it wasn’t until police pulled over the bus that they were reunited with their son.

”I got there, an officer had him in the main office,” Lopez said. “I asked him what happened. A 6-year-old that just went on a two hour bus ride. He was a little startled. Why are police officers here?"

The district explained that law enforcement did pull over the bus, but they were looking for a different child.

It’s not known if the boy fell asleep or not or why he didn’t respond to the bus driver or his grandmother. The parents say better safety measure should be in place to keep better track of the students.

They added if the bus driver had a student checklist, she would have known their child was on that bus.

The district's transportation department explained protocol is to either return the student to the bus stop, the school or a meet up point with the parent. The district plans to provide every bus driver with a roster and assign seating for the students.

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