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Young child forgotten on a school bus

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ALTUS, Okla._An investigation is underway in Altus after a 5-year-old special needs student was forgotten about and was left on a school bus for several hours.

The boy was only discovered after his parents went in search of him when he didn't make it to daycare on his usual bus ride from Rivers Elementary School located on Altus Air Force Base. Altus school officials later found the Pre-K student in the school's bus barn sitting in the parked bus. Somehow his bus driver and aid both forgot to make their last stop and left the little boy sitting there all alone until he was found.

Even after being forgotten on the bus for hours, little Ralph is doing just fine. His mother says she's grateful temperatures on Tuesday weren't hot. She never imagined the outcome when she went to pick him up at daycare and found out he never made it. She assumed his father or one of his grandparents had picked him up from Pre-K like they had done many times before. She called them and after finding out that no one had seen him, she went into a panic.

"At first I thought maybe he got dropped off somewhere else and he wandered off. Right now he goes to special classes because he needs extra help. And I said my poor baby he's just out there wondering around," said Margaret Vasquez, Ralph’s mom.

Ralph's grandmother doesn't understand how he could just be forgotten so easily.

"And I couldn't understand why they couldn't see him and kept him in the bus all this time," said Beatrice Gonzalez, Ralph’s grandmother.

Vasquez says she doesn't know what Ralph was thinking, but she knows he had to have been scared.

"I just prayed and prayed. Please bring my baby home and let him be okay. And thank God the weather was windy yesterday and it was cold, or he would have probably suffocated in there," said Vasquez.

The day care director and Ralph's teacher figured out by process of elimination that the only place Ralph could be was still on the bus.

"This is a special needs bus that has the bus driver and she has an assistant. They have a clipboard and every time you go out there and get them, they are marking off that they've picked them up, dropped them off whatever. So I don't know how he went unnoticed, I just don't understand," said Jeannie Bitle, daycare director.

Ralph's mom fears he will never want to get on a bus again.

"I'm worried if he's going to get to where he's supposed to go. I'm just so scared and I know Ralph doesn't know better yet. Like yesterday, he just sat there waiting for someone to come for him and no body ever did," said Vasquez.

Altus Public Schools said both the bus driver and the aid have been suspended indefinitely with pay, pending the investigation by the district. The school district also says they reached out to the family Wednesday afternoon to tell them how sorry they are for what happened to Ralph.

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