School Bus Mysteriously Disappears for Four Hours: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Dallas school bus missing

A school bus carrying children back to their parents went missing for four hours in Dallas. (Getty)

A school bus in Dallas mysteriously disappeared for four hours while parents frantically searched for their missing children. Parents were told conflicting stories and finally had to call the police for help. Eight children, ages 4 to 6, were missing and weren’t reunited with their parents until almost 8 p.m. It’s still unclear exactly what happened and the parents are being told conflicting stories that some of them just don’t believe.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. The Parents Didn’t Know Anything Was Wrong Until the Bus Simply Didn’t Arrive

KIPP Destiny to J.N. Ervin Elementary

These are the routes from KIPP Destiny to J.N. Ervin Elementary, according to Google Maps. (Google Maps)

The children attend a charter school in Red Bird, KIPP Destiny, for grades pre-K to first grade. Every day, their bus arrives at J. N. Ervin Elementary School in Dallas around 4 p.m. for the parents to pick them up. On Thursday, the parents arrived but their children weren’t there, Fox 4 News reported. The children were all between the ages of 4 and 6. One parent told Fox 4 that one of the children had a cell phone and called her because her child was crying in the background. The children were too young to explain where they were, though. The parents tried to call KIPP Destiny, but the offices were closed.

2. The Bus Company Kept Giving the Parents Different Stories About What Happened

Durham Bus Company kept giving the parents the runaround. First, a dispatcher told them that the bus driver had missed his stop. The parents were also told, at various times, that he was lost and that the bus was broken down, Fox 4 reported. The dispatcher was never able to tell the parents where the bus actually was. The dispatcher even sent the parents to a different location to get their kids, and the bus didn’t show up again. One parent whose child attends another school, Cynthia Caballero, said on Facebook that the Durham Bus Company has an app that updates some of its buses’ locations every three minutes. The app is available for Northwest ISD, but may not have been available yet for the Dallas area.

3. The Police Sent a Helicopter to Search for the Bus And May Have Found It Parked

The frantic parents finally had to call the police and get them involved in the search. The police sent out a helicopter to search for the bus. Tan TeTe Thompson, a parent of one of the children on the bus, said on Facebook, “We got the police and Fox 4 involved because Durham Bus service could not tell us nor locate the whereabouts of the bus.” She stressed that KIPP Destiny was not to blame for what happened and the principal of KIPP was with them trying to figure out what had happened.

Moniqua Hoskin wrote on Facebook that she was another parent of a child on the missing bus and that the Dallas police helicopter finally found the bus parked somewhere. She said the company wasn’t saying anything else, just that the children were removed from the parked bus and returned to the parents.

The Durham bus company has said that the driver on the route was new and that the bus had mechanical problems, WFAA reported. However, surveillance video found from a 7-Eleven store shows about 20 students from the bus walking into the convenience store during the four hours that it was missing, Fox 4 reported.  Fox originally reported there were eight onthe bus, so it’s not completely clear at this time exactly how many children were involved. In addition,the 7-Eleven store was far off the course the bus was supposed to be on, according to Diana Zoga. Durham admitted that it did not know the bus had stopped at the convenience store and Durham and the school are investigating what happened. This video just leaves more questions unanswered. If the driver didn’t have a cell phone for some reason, why didn’t he make a phone call while they were at the 7-Eleven, where access to a phone was readily available?

4. The Frightened Children Were Finally Reunited With Their Parents Nearly Four Hours Later

Nearly four hours later, the bus finally showed up, followed by another bus, Fox 4 reported. Eight children got off the bus and were reunited with their parents. Diana Zoga, with Fox 4, reported that one little girl told her she was scared and crying for her mother. The children didn’t have access to restrooms, food, or water during the four hours the bus was missing. A woman on Facebook who said she worked for Durham for 12 years said the buses do have cameras on them and the police should be able to access those cameras to find out what happened.

5. The Parents Are Angry And Want Answers

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Parents are furious and are wanting answers. During the Fox 4 newscast, reporters commented that they still didn’t know what was true and what was false. Steve Eagar, a Fox 4 anchor, said during behind-the-scenes footage that he was having a tough time buying the story that the bus was just broken down. Why wouldn’t the bus driver have a cell phone or radio to contact dispatch and explain where he was and what had happened? Why were the parents in the dark for four hours? Victor Martinez, who also said on Facebook that he was a father of one of the children on the bus, said the company was blaming the driver, saying the driver was new, but the driver had been there for three weeks. He said the drivers usually have a helper with them, but did not that day. The Durham bus company has said the bus driver has been removed from the KIPP route, but did not say if the driver would still be driving other routes for other schools. Durham also stated that additional people will be on the buses to make sure things go smoothly from now on, WFAA reported. But for some parents, this doesn’t answer all their questions at all.

Thompson, a mother of one of the children on the bus, said on Facebook that the children were removed from the original bus and brought to them on a different bus, but no one has told them exactly what happened to the first bus. She said: “It was just unimaginable; the worst part is that Durham couldn’t tell us where the bus was…. Best believe we will be following up!”