Deaf child stuck on Kansas school bus for hours on first day of preschool

Posted at 10:53 PM, Aug 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-23 23:53:21-04

OLATHE, Kan. — Three-year-old Brody Hunninghake, who is deaf, is all smiles Wednesday, but that wasn’t the case on his first day of preschool.

His mother, Amanda Hunninghake, loaded him onto the school bus shortly after 6 a.m. Monday.

She thought everything was fine until a call from the bus company around 1:15 p.m.

The Topeka parents learned their son never made it to the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe, Kansas. 

“I was just so scared for him what was going through his mind? I know he can't communicate with everybody,” Amanda Hunninghake told 41 Action News. 

According to Durham Bus Services, Brody’s driver first made a drop off at the Kansas State School for the Blind in Kansas City, Kan.  

But then the driver got lost on his way to Olathe because he didn’t have the right directions. The driver’s cell phone was dead and there wasn’t any reception on the bus’ two-way radio.

By late morning the driver headed back to Topeka.

“They didn't stop at all, the only stop that they made was to get gas,” Hunninghake said. 

Brody made it back home after spending almost seven hours on the bus. 

“My heart just sank because I knew that he probably needed to go to the bathroom, he needs something to drink he was just sitting there confused of what was going on,” Hunninghake said.

She expressed her frustration at the situation on Facebook which led to some action.

On Wednesday morning, Brody’s parents met with school administrators and the bus company.

“They apologized over and over — they gave the wrong address to the bus driver,” Hunninghake said.

In a statement Durham Bus Services told 41 Action News: 

“Getting our students to and from school safely is our top priority. Monday, we were not able to deliver a student to school, as the driver had incorrect routing directions. We are very sorry for this error and have taken immediate action to ensure it does not happen again. We have retrained our driver and equipped him with a mobile device to ensure a consistent communication link with Durham, Topeka Public Schools and Kansas City destinations. In addition, we will keep a paraprofessional on the bus for the duration of the route. We look forward to delivering the high-quality service for which we are known for the remainder of the school year.”

The Topeka School District who has a contract with Durham Bus Services also provided a statement addressing Monday’s incident:

“Topeka Public Schools is working directly with Durham Bus Services, as well as the student's family to ensure something like this does not happen again. Several steps have been made including, adjusting the bus route as well as assigning a paraprofessional to the route everyday. Student safety is a top priority and it is our expectation that it remains a priority in every interaction with a student through our employees as well as our contracted services.”

As for Brody, he wasn't afraid to ride the bus the next day.