Special needs child left on bus
By Dwayne Bremer
Sep 7, 2013, 01:03
A seven-year-old special needs student at East Hancock Elementary was left on a school bus Wednesday morning and not discovered for almost seven hours, authorities said Friday.
According to a report on file with the Hancock County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to a welfare concern at 5000 Diamondhead Circle at 1:46 p.m. Wednesday.
5000 Diamondhead Circle is the location of Diamondhead City Hall. The property is also used as a parking spot for several school buses during the day.
According to the report, a person in the parking lot called central dispatch and reported a child walking around in the parking lot by the school buses Wednesday.
When deputies arrived, they spoke to the child, Gabriele Ibarra of Diamondhead.
Ibarra told deputies that he had fallen asleep on the bus during transport to school earlier in the morning, according to the report.
The bus was apparently parked at city hall and Ibarra was left on the bus, officials said.
The sheriff's office was able to contact the child's parents, who picked him up later in the afternoon.
Ibarra's mother, Kelly Sutterfield, said Friday that her son stayed on the school bus from 6:30 a.m. until shortly after 1 p.m.
She said he was "scared that he may get in trouble."
"When I found out, I screamed," Sutterfield said. "It was very scary. What if he would not have been able to communicate with the police? What if he would have gotten sick? He knew he was in Diamondhead and he just wanted to go home."
Sutterfield said Gabriele was dehydrated and that Diamondhead police gave him water, popsicles, and sodas once he was found.
Sutterfield was able to pick up her son later in the day and she said she took him for a check-up at Diamondhead Urgent Care.
Hopefully, she said, he will be fine: "This could had been a very devastating outcome," she said. "He does not even want to ride on a school bus anymore. I am pretty upset about this whole thing."
Hancock County Schools Superintendent Alan Dedeaux said Friday that school administrators are investigating the incident.
"We really cannot say too much at this time because it is a student/personnel matter, but I can assure you that we are looking into this and the appropriate measures will be taken," Dedeaux said.
Sheriff's department officials said no citations were issued, but the case remains under investigation.