Outrage after student left on roadside by bus driver
FEARS of a repeat tragedy like the one that claimed Daniel Morcombe's young life have haunted Rockhampton region woman Susan Plummer.
The grandmother-of-five made the chilling revelation after she claims her 6 year old granddaughter was left on the side of the road, far from her stop, by her school bus driver.
She claimed the Crescent Lagoon State School student on Friday boarded the bus - operated by Young's Bus Service - as she usually would.
However this time its usual driver was absent and in their place was a relief driver.
It is from here that the routine bus trip to Alton Downs spiralled into a terrifying moment which has scarred her granddaughter.
"The driver completely missed the usual bus stop and didn't even notice until my granddaughter raised the alarm. The driver pulled over, told her to get off the bus and walk back to the stop," she claimed.
"The road is on a big bend, the bus stop is fine itself but between there and where she was dropped off, it's completely surrounded by undergrowth and there's water all throughout there."
She said her granddaughter waded through thick undergrowth around 2m high after deciding the sharp road corners were unsafe to walk along.
The girl's mother was waiting at the designated stop and unaware the bus had passed until her daughter emerged from the overgrown grass in hysterics.
"They were both absolutely distraught, my granddaughter was frightened," she said.
"The mind boggles to the variety of things could have happened.
"She was terrified at the fact of stranger danger too. She knows not to go wandering off with strangers but anything could have happened.
"The variables as to what could've gone wrong are substantial.
"He may be a relief driver, but these fill-ins should still be given all the student's information in front of them."
Since posting about the alleged incident on social media, Mrs Plummer has been inundated by messages from others in the community about similar experiences.
"People have come forward to tell me the same thing happened with their child and that Young's had not responded in any way," she said.
Ms Plummer submitted a formal complaint to Young's Bus Service and TransLink on Monday, with the transport heavyweight promising an internal investigation.
Young's Bus Service owner Phil Young acknowledged the incident in an email sent to Mrs Plummer.
"The relief driver knew the route but was unfamiliar with any of the individual stops for each student along the route," he said.
He also detailed how the driver arranged for a student to advise him of individual stops, however, said overruns occasionally happened for one reason or another.
Mr Young also wrote that the driver admitted to not seeing any vehicle parked at the bus stop before asking the child to disembark.
"Our drivers are supplied with route sheets, timetables, student rolls for each and every route we operate. Our ticket machine also updates the next stop," he said.
He instead said the issue was the unkempt bus stop, and that to rectify the issue the stop would be moved from Cranston Rd to Ridgelands Rd.
"The area is always mowed, provides clear vision of the bus for the travelling motorists both ways, is on the straight section of road, with room for parents' cars to pick up students," he said.
Sadly, the incident offered a stark reminder of the incident which led to Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe's murder.
"Change needs to happen," Mrs Plummer said.
"I want change, not just for my granddaughter, for every student. When the tragedy happened with Daniel, it was his parents that fought for change."
"Just because we're not in more built-up areas doesn't mean our children deserve to be any less protected."
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said it was aware of the incident and that Crescent Lagoon State School officials had been in contact with the family of the student.