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Student's early exit from bus prompts hour-long search

November 16, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Authorities searched for about an hour Monday afternoon for a Potomac Heights Elementary School student who got off at the wrong bus stop.

The boy, whose name and age were unavailable Monday, was found at about 4 p.m. at Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown.

"According to Bester Elementary staff, a student from Bester escorted the student to Bester's front office, where the student was assisted," Washington County Public Schools spokesman Richard Wright said in an e-mail.

Wright said the boy exited the bus one stop ahead of his scheduled drop-off, which is near the intersection of Wayside Avenue and North Locust Street.

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The distance between the bus stop and Bester Elementary School is about 1.75 miles, according to MapQuest.

The boy was a new student, Wright said, but "the driver of the bus was not adequately notified of the new rider. As a result, the student got off the bus with a group of students."

When school officials learn that a student is missing, "schools, bus drivers, Central Office personnel, transportation supervisors and other necessary staff are immediately alerted and dispatched to investigate and locate the child," Wright said.

In some cases, law enforcement is asked to assist, Wright said. In all cases, the parents receive continual updates on the search.

Hagerstown Police Sgt. Rebecca Fetchu said Monday that a police report of the incident probably wouldn't be available until Tuesday.

Sandra Linares, who lives on Wayside Avenue near the boy's bus stop, said she received a phone call Monday from school officials saying the boy was lost.

"They just asked if we could be on the lookout," Linares said.

She said her 9- and 12-year-old daughters helped search the neighborhood for the boy.

"It's scary," Linares said. "I have two little kids. I'd be hysterical (if it happened to me)."

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