School bus video pivotal in finding missing child

March 12, 2004|GARY MOYERS

Parents of a Jennie Rogers Elementary School student spent some anxious hours Thursday worrying about and searching for their missing child, but the drama ended happily.

Danville police Sgt. Tom Bustle said officers received a report at 7 p.m. from parents of a 6-year-old child who did not return home from the Jennie Rogers afterschool program.

"When the little girl didn't get off the bus at home like the parents expected, the mother contacted us," said Bustle, who declined to name the child or parents. "We talked with the mother and completed a missing persons report, then mobilized for a search. We then set up an incident command post at the school and began our search."

Bustle said the effort included approximately 20 people from the Danville police and fire departments, Boyle EMS and the school system. In the end, he said it was information provided by the school system that proved to be pivotal in bringing the search to a quick and successful conclusion.


"Chuck Stallard from the Danville School system came over and provided us with videotape from the school bus in that area, and from that tape, along with help from students on the bus, we were able to ascertain exactly where the child left the bus."

"We followed our district-wide procedure for this type of incident," said Stallard, Danville schools' director of pupil personnel. "The police have a list of contact people for our system, and after they notified the principal at Jennie Rogers, she called me. I contacted the bus driver, and we were able to find the tape almost immediately."

Bustle said from that point the search was concentrated in a much smaller area, and just after 8 p.m. the child was found at a friend's home in the neighborhood.

"We do not know the reasons for the mix-up, but for whatever reason, the child got off the bus at a friend's home rather than going to her own home," said Bustle. "I can't tell you how valuable the help from the school system was. Without their help, particularly from the videotape and the information it provided, we were able to focus on a smaller area and locate the missing child much, much quicker than if we hadn't had that help."

Stallard said he was impressed with the search organized and implemented by the emergency agencies. "They were so quick in setting everything up," he said. "They were very professional, very organized, and incredibly efficient in establishing a command post, and getting to the child. They did a great job."

Bustle said the missing child was fine. "She's home and fine and safe, the parents are okay, everybody's doing just fine," he said.

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