Hours after a family in Nebraska reported the disappearance of a 5-year-old boy, investigators found the child locked in a school van and ticketed the driver on suspicion of child neglect, police confirmed Thursday.
The driver claimed he'd dropped off Samuel Van Tha Bik at his home in Omaha Wednesday afternoon, police said. Officers then went to where the school buses and vans were parked and found the boy sitting in one.
Police found the child around 9 p.m. Wednesday, five hours after his scheduled release from classes at Field Club Elementary School.
Eastern Nebraska Community Action Partnership, which operated the van, referred questions to Omaha Public Schools. Spokeswoman Monique Farmer told the Omaha World-Herald the school system scheduled an emergency meeting "to really ensure our contractor takes any appropriate disciplinary action, if that’s necessary."
On Tuesday, a school bus company in Pennsylvania fired a driver who reportedly left a 5-year-old boy alone on a school bus as temperatures soared into the 80s. Michelle Oquendo told WFMZ her son, Prince, missed his first day of kindergarten at the Monocacy Elementary Center in Amity Township because the driver failed to notice the child was on the bus.
She said her son was sweating and his face was flushed, and workers treated him for dehydration. "I cried myself to sleep," the boy told KYW.
In the Omaha case, the boy's family reported his disappearance around 6 p.m., and investigators used a helicopter as part of their search. The boy's father said he thought a substitute driver was operating the bus.
School officials intend to discuss the situation Thursday with the bus service contractor.
Police in Pennsylvania said they were still looking into the Amity Township case. The driver reportedly left the boy on the bus for more than four hours.
New Rhoads Transportation owner Steve Rhoads told WFMZ the driver was "very remorseful, but it's done, and there is no gray area there on our side. We cannot take the chance again."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.