ELYRIA – A bus driver that failed to notify authorities after an 11-year-old girl reported an attempted abduction at a bus stop has been suspended while First Student investigates the lapse in procedure.
The driver has not been identified, but Elyria Schools Director of Business Services Rich Nielson said the driver has been removed from the route. A hearing to be conducted by First Student will determine why the driver did not call the transportation dispatch after the student reported the Wednesday morning incident.
The girl subsequently pointed out to the bus driver the woman she said had approached her, and the bus driver later told police he saw the woman walking along West River Road North.
“The driver should have called through dispatch, which is normal procedure, and dispatch would have notified police,” Nielson. “I think this is just an anomaly in the system and most drivers are well aware of the procedure, but that will be for First Student to determine. They are as concerned about student safety as we are.”
The girl, who was waiting for a bus just before 7 a.m. Wednesday near the entrance to High Point in the Park on West River Road North told police a red, small sedan-type vehicle — she thought it might be a Kia — pulled into the apartment entrance and a woman got out of the car. She held out her arms and asked the girl if she wanted a hug and a ride to school.
The woman came within four feet of the girl.
The girl took off running and hid behind a shed in the area, police said.
Police Capt. Chris Costantino said the woman followed the girl and was talking to her, saying things like “Come out, I’ll take you to school,” and “I just want a hug,” she told police.
The woman appeared to call someone on a cellphone at which time the girl told police she saw a white man about 6 feet tall wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood over his head and torn-up jeans, head toward the car, get in and drive off.
The woman eventually walked away on foot when the driver of the car she got out of drove away.
The woman was described as a white, about 5-feet, 4-inches tall and weighing roughly 200 pounds with brown hair that she was wearing in a bun. She had glasses on, and she was wearing a black business skirt suit with a pink blouse.
Costantino said police are still investigating the incident and looking for the woman. Police are asking that anyone who may recognize the couple from the description to contact police at (440) 323-3302.
Nielson said students standing near Georgetown saw a suspicious red car in the area Friday morning, told the bus driver, who immediately notified police.
“That’s out expectation of what would happen in a normal situation,” he said.