SOUTH MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - An 8-year-old girl had the scare of her life when she woke up in an empty school bus in South Miami-Dade and was nearly attacked by a guard dog, leading the company that owns the buses to fire the driver responsible.
Terzaria Mathews, a second-grader at ASPIRA Charter School, was picked up after the end of classes on Thursday, but instead of being dropped off at an aftercare facility near her house as usual, she found herself left behind at the bus yard after falling asleep in her seat.
Speaking with 7News, the student spoke about the frightening moment she realized she had been left behind with no one in sight.
When asked if she was all alone, Mathews replied, “Yes.”
The bus driver didn’t realize the child was still on the bus at the time.
“She’s like, ‘Mommy, I had to open the school bus and climb the gate and…” said Lashandia Jackson, Mathews’ mother, as she fought back tears.
Mathews has to think on her feet and fend for herself. She was able to prop the bus’ door open.
It was then that the girl came face-to-face with a guard dog. She quickly threw her backpack at the canine before climbing over the lot’s gate.
“Climbed over the gate, maybe an 8-foot gate over there,” said Woodrow Brown, Mathews’ stepfather.
Mathews walked along Southwest 124th Avenue until she reached Coconut Palm K-8 Academy, where she was finally able to seek help.
“She crossed the street and walked like maybe another 50 to 100 yards to the school and let somebody know that she didn’t know where she was at, and she was scared,” said Brown.
“When I saw her, she came running to me and she fell on the floor crying,” said Jackson.
When asked whether she was happy to see her parents, Mathews replied, “Yes.”
Soon after, Advance Bus Service, the school bus company that provides transportation services to ASPIRA, made contact with the child’s parents, who rushed over to pick her up.
The bus driver admitted to neglecting to check the vehicle at the end of her route. She drove to the family’s home to apologize.
“Said that was the very first time that she hadn’t checked the bus in 12 years,” said Brown.
“Everybody was just trying to apologize,” said Jackson, “but when you run through everything that goes in your mind with everything that happens…”
Advance Bus Service confirmed Mathews’ story to 7News, stating that they have a zero tolerance policy and the driver has since been fired.
Thursday night, Jackson said, her child could not sleep.
“Right now, she’s going to be talking to a counselor, and we’ll go from there,” she said. “She was not able to sleep last night at all, still can’t sleep. She’s worried about today. It’s just hard.”
Mathews said she was happy to see her parents after experiencing the scare.
The 8-year-old’s family said she will temporarily be driven to school. Her parents dropped her off Friday morning.
Miami-Dade Police were also called to the scene while everything was being handled.
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