Boy with autism found safe after boarding wrong bus in Fort Lauderdale

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A Fort Lauderdale student on the autism spectrum has been reunited with his family after, relatives said, he ended up on a bus that took him to another city, Tuesday afternoon.

Brandon, a sixth-grader, is unable to express himself, said his family. At the end of the school day at New River Middle School, he was supposed to be placed on a bus that would bring him to the United Cerebral Palsy Center of Broward County, located three minutes away by vehicle.

“He did not make it there,” said Charlene, his mother.

“He didn’t get on the wrong bus. They put him on the wrong bus,” said Liz, his grandmother.

Brandon ended up near Powerline Road and Fourth Court in Pompano Beach, nearly an hour’s drive in rush hour traffic.

Charlene, who did not want to give out her family’s last name, said she was unaware anything was wrong until she went to pick up her son at the Cerebral Palsy Center, just before 5 p.m., and was told the 11-year-old never made it. “I was very distraught, very upset,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

The concerned mother then contacted New River, to no avail. “The school didn’t have any answers for me,” she said. “As a parent, that’s very nerve-wracking.”

Charlene was hoping for the best, but she became very worried for her son’s well-being. “My biggest fear was that he was wandering the neighborhood and just out there alone, unsupervised,” she said.

Thankfully, Fort Lauderdale Police had some answers. They were able to locate the boy in Pompano Beach, accompanied by his bus driver.

Brandon’s loved ones are grateful this story came to a happy ending. “I’m just happy, and I thank God that he’s alive, and he’s well, and we have him back,” said Charlene.

“We have him now,” said Liz as she sat next her grandson. “He’s getting some water. He was all nervous.”

But he was probably not quite as nervous as his mother and grandmother. “Despair,” said Charlene. “That’s just how I felt, just despair, not knowing where my child was.”

Broward School District officials told 7News they are reviewing all of the circumstances that led to this mix up and are trying to talk to everyone involved to help ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

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