Child with special needs left on school bus, found wandering miles from home


QUARRYVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – A Solanco School District bus driver has been fired after a boy with Down syndrome was left alone on a bus Monday.

“I was worried. I was scared to death. It’s the worst phone call a mom could get,” said Dana Clifford, Evan’s mom. 

On the other end of that phone call were complete strangers. Two women had found Evan walking alone with his thumb up, a playful gesture he learned from his mom when his bus comes in the morning. 

“He did tell the women that he was scared, and he told them he was lost and didn’t know how to get home,” Dana Clifford said.

Dana helped to strap Evan into a seat on his bus before it headed to Quarryville Elementary earlier that morning. At some point in the ride, he fell asleep. When the bus arrived at school, an aide tried to wake him but then appeared to give up.

“He stirred a little bit, but he didn’t wake up fully,” Dana Clifford said. “They got the other kids off the bus and Evan was still on the bus sleeping.”

The Cliffords believe the driver went home without doing the district-required check of her bus, leaving Evan to wake up all alone. His parents say he got off the bus and started wandering around the driver’s neighborhood.

The Cliffords hope the school will create new fail-safes by making sure all buses are equipped with alarms.

“If you shut the bus off and try to get out of the door, you have to go all the way to the back of the bus to hit a button so the alarm shuts off and you can get out,” said Joshua Clifford, Evan’s father. 

Evan is full of smiles and quick to bounce back, but his parents fear that this happy ending might not extend to all kids in the future. 

“This cannot happen to another child,” said Joshua Clifford. 

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