POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) — The family of a South Florida teen is demanding answers after, they said, the bus from a senior year celebration inadvertently left her at a rest stop on the Florida Turnpike.
According to the student’s mother, her daughter ended up stranded and scared at the Fort Drum Service Plaza in Okeechobee, Monday, at around 4 a.m. The student’s family said she was on her way back to Blanche Ely Senior High School in Pompano Beach after having attended Grad Bash at Universal Studios Orlando.
The student’s mother said her daughter used the restroom at the plaza. When she came out, the bus was gone.
Local residents who spoke to 7News said they empathized with the teen’s family. "I’d be very upset if my child was left behind," said Joan Campbell.
Patrick Johnson said the school should be held accountable for the mishap. "They should definitely be more responsible," he said. "I mean, I don’t think there’s any excuse for that, really."
"I worry about the child, what she was going through," said Sandra Wilkie.
The student’s mother said the teen had her cellphone on her and was able to call her. During the call, however, the phone went dead.
Fortunately, the teen’s mother said, students inside a bus from a school in Palm Beach County saw the girl alone and gave her a ride back to South Florida. That bus took the teen to Boca Raton, where she was reunited with her mother.
"They should have a checklist of all the names of the kids," said concerned resident Alec Johnson, "and they should check that list and make sure all the kids are on board."
A Broward County Public Schools spokesperson released a statement that read, "The school is aware of the incident and is grateful the student was safely reunited with her parent. School leadership is in the process of reviewing all protocols and procedures to prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future and continues to communicate with the family of the student involved regarding this matter."
"I would be incredibly upset. I would call the superintendent," said area resident Jim Lack, "and I would want to meet with him, and I would want to know why."
The teen’s mother said her daughter goes to an alternative school in Boca Raton and was participating in Grad Night as a guest. She is now considering legal action.
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