6-year-old dumped by bus driver

By Mathew Dearnaley

Family furious little boy was put off in pouring rain three streets from his destination and his waiting mother.

Kimberley Hunter (L) with her son, 6-year-old Oliver, who was left at the side of the road after a school bus run. Photo / NZ Herald
Kimberley Hunter (L) with her son, 6-year-old Oliver, who was left at the side of the road after a school bus run. Photo / NZ Herald

A bus driver on a school run dumped a 6-year-old at the side of the road and headed back to the depot instead of taking him to his bus stop.

Oliver Hunter's family are furious the driver left him in pouring rain beside a main Howick road, three streets from where his mother was waiting for him.

Oliver, who was still too upset yesterday to talk about his ordeal, spent about 20 minutes on Wednesday afternoon trying to find his mother, Kimberley Hunter, after the driver dropped him at the intersection of Union Rd and Wood Ave without completing her Howick and Eastern bus company's school run.

Mrs Hunter was waiting in a car with her 18-month-old baby at a bus stop at the southern end of Kyeemagh St, 400m away, when she caught a glimpse in her rear-vision mirror of her disoriented, distraught and drenched son running in the rain.

"At first, I couldn't believe it was him. He was running and crying - he was really stressed and couldn't even speak properly," she said.

"It just broke my heart. He said he was so confused and didn't know where he was going."

Although Oliver had luckily headed the correct way, Mrs Hunter was appalled he had risked being run over or accosted while crossing a difficult dog-leg intersection. She said he usually travelled home with friends, but found himself the last child on the bus on Wednesday when the young female driver apparently missed the Wood Ave turn-off twice before stopping the vehicle and walking him across its intersection with Union Rd, leaving him on the opposite corner.

Mrs Hunter said she had assumed the bus was running late, and would eventually turn up with Oliver, although she phoned another mother to find out where it could be as she was running late for collecting her middle child from kindergarten.

Oliver's grandmother, lawyer Jane Northwood, said the driver should be sacked after failing a duty of care to a young passenger. "We're not on any witch-hunt - we just want to make sure nobody is ever put in charge of small children again when they think dumping them on the side of a street is an acceptable course of action."

Howick and Eastern Buses general manager Sheryll Otway said she had been horrified to hear of the incident. The company's policy was to take children on school runs "to their entire destination ... If children are disoriented and not sure where to get off, they are taken back to our depot and we contact the parents."

Ms Otway said the company had taken the driver off school runs while it investigated, although the woman remained at work in the meantime.

Howick and Eastern Buses had allocated an inspector to accompany Oliver on future bus runs "for as long as it takes - until we make sure that child feels comfortable".

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- NZ Herald

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