‘They lost my son:’ LaBelle 6-year-old wrongly put on bus, left at stop

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Country Oaks Elementary School in LaBelle, Hendry County. (WINK News)

It’s something no mother should go through.

“They lost my son. He was lost,” said Cristal DeSantiago.

On Monday, she went to pick up her son, Carlos, from Country Oaks Elementary in LaBelle only to find he wasn’t there.

“He’s missing on a bus by himself and he’s only six years old,” she said.

Carlos told a substitute teacher he wanted to ride the “magical” bus. So without any question and with no clear nametag on his backpack, a driver allowed him to ride.

“He should’ve stepped up and stopped him but no, they let him ride around and they dropped him off somewhere where he was unaware of,” said DeSantiago.

The driver dropped him at the Mira Verde Community. Even though Carlos told the driver he wanted to go to his grandmother’s house, the driver left him all alone.

That time that he was missing, everything just fell apart on us, you know? Am I going to see my son again? Where is he?

The superintendent of schools called the situation “unfortunate.” He admitted the child shouldn’t have been riding the bus in the first place and the sub didn’t notice the missing tag.

“I kind of panicked,” said DeSantiago. “I started to cry. I got in touch with my parents and let them know my son is missing.”

Finally, a woman called the school saying she found Carlos and that he was safe.

“Now he won’t go back to school. He’s scared. He’s asking me if he’s going to be okay, if the school’s okay, and he just wants to go to a different school,” said DeSantiago.

Come Monday, Carlos will not return to Country Oaks.

DeSantiago says she is writing to the Board of Education about the incident and will keep going until she finds a solution.

She’ll meet with administrators on Friday to talk about ways to make sure no parent or child goes through what she did ever again.

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