MILWAUKEE -- He was supposed to be dropped off at daycare. So why did a seven-year-old boy spend hours alone in the freezing cold?
The seven-year-old boy attends Hope Christian School near 91st and Brown Deer Road.
On Monday, January 11th, he was supposed to leave school and get on a bus for daycare. He ended up wandering the streets in the cold.
"I was crying hard," Zechariah Bradley said.
Bradley was excited to ride the bus to daycare for the first time on Monday. But a major mishap left him outside his empty home for several hours.
"They put him on the wrong bus. The bus driver just dropped him off and just told him to get off the bus. Said it was his stop," Martie Bradley, Zechariah's mother said.
Martie Bradley says her son was placed on his morning bus -- a bus that takes him to his home near 40th and Stark.
She was at work, and Zechariah was supposed to be dropped off at daycare -- just across the street from his school at 91st and Brown Deer Road.
Zechariah told FOX6 News he was so scared and confused, he left his hat and gloves on the bus.
"Not knowing where your son is -- it`s something you never want to feel," Martie Bradley said.
The boy couldn't get into his home or his nearby uncle's home.
"My hands were getting very cold and I couldn`t move them," Zechariah said.
The boy ended up in an alley -- crying alone in the dark.
"Can somebody help me?" Zechariah said.
Renee Love heard his cries.
"I said, `You haven`t been in the house since you got home from school?` And he said 'no.' so I told him 'come on,'" Love said.
Love stayed with the boy in her home until his mother arrived.
Martie Bradley says no one from Hope Christian School or Riteway Buses could tell her where her son was.
The boy was still in pain when his mother came home. She dialed 911.
Martie Bradley says Zechariah didn't suffer from frostbite, but he could be sensitive to the cold for years to come.
As a "thank you" to Love, his kind neighbor, he offered a homemade bracelet and a warm hug.
Hope Christian School's executive director issued this statement to FOX6 News:
On Monday, January 12 one of our students took the wrong afternoon bus and we feel terrible that the student was dropped off at home with no one to receive him. This was the first day of a new bus route for the student. We are grateful that he is safe and we were happy to see him back at school today in good spirits.
Upon learning that the child was dropped off at home instead of daycare, we immediately began working with the child’s mother and grandmother, as well as the bus company, to determine exactly what happened.
The health and safety of our students is our top priority. We work with parents and the bus company to help ensure that our students arrive and return home from school safely everyday. Between our schools and the bus company, we have several safeguards in place to make sure this does not happen. Unfortunately, in this unique case, each of those safeguards failed.
We are considering additional safeguards in consultation with the bus company and I am personally taking responsibility to ensure this never happens again.
FOX6 News reached out to the bus company. A spokesman said they're following up with their drivers -- and said Monday's incident was a misunderstanding.