A school bus driver was arrested Friday after a 5-year-old boy was left alone on the bus in New Britain for more than three hours, according to police.
Police said the driver, Shamowl Evans, 28, has been charged with risk of injury to a minor.
Investigators discovered the child after the principal of Smith Elementary School called them to report the boy missing Wednesday morning, according to police.
New Britain police spokesman Capt. Thomas Steck said the child's mother told them the boy had boarded the bus to school around 8:40 a.m. Wednesday. School administrators said the boy never made it to school.
"We have an automated system that calls parents within two hours of any absence if their child's absence has not been called in first by the parent. We have a tight system," New Britain Supt. Kelt Cooper said in an email to NBC Connecticut on Friday. "Once the parent called to say she received an automated call and that she put the child on the bus, the school took immediate action by calling the bus company, searching every classroom, nook, and cranny, and with other schools with shared routes."
According to Cooper, the process took about 35 minutes. He said the school district asked the bus company "numerous times" to double check the bus "as it was the last and most logical place" for the child to be.
The boy was found sleeping on the bus around 12:30 p.m., according to Steck.
Temperatures climbed above 90 degrees Wednesday, prompting concern for the child's welfare.
"It was warm that day and by our estimation he had been on the bus in excess of three and a half hours. So he was transported for evaluation and it’s my understanding he’s fine," said Steck.
Police said the school bus belongs to DATTCO. Company officials said in a statement Friday that Evans has been suspended while police and school officials investigate.
"DATTCO has a longstanding excellent safety record across Connecticut, and is concerned first and foremost with the safety of every child we transport," DATTCO Chief Operating Officer Cliff Gibson said in the statement. "Our entire company will continue to focus on the safe transportation of our passengers."
Gibson said DATTCO is cooperating with authorities.
It's not clear if Evans has an attorney.