A Queensland bus driver of 50 years was sacked after leaving a five-year-old girl stuck on the bus when he failed to check if it was empty after his afternoon school run. The young girls dad has spoke out in his defence.
Ross Belsham hit out at Logan Coaches for terminating his employment and Jimboomba State School for not having staff present when he began his school pick-up last Monday afternoon.
Mr Belsham told the Nine Network that he got off the bus because no duty teacher was at the pick-up zone, and that was when Year 1 student Alyssa New snuck on, shares ABC news.
Police said Alyssa fell asleep at the back of the bus and went unnoticed by the driver until she was located by depot staff about 7:30pm.
A sweep of the bus was not conducted at the end of Mr Belsham’s shift. Mr Belsham said he helped four children get on the bus and was not aware another had snuck on and fell asleep. Once he let the four children off he returned to the depot and finished for the day believing his bus was empty.
“I’ve lost my job so I don’t think I’ve had a fair run,” Mr Belsham said.
‘That’s the end of my life, unless somebody out there wants to give me a job,’ he told Nine News.
“To my knowledge she was not on the bus.”
The girl’s mother Bobbie Langdon claimed she was there to pick up her daughter up at her regular bus stop in Yarrabilba on the afternoon Alyssa went missing. But Mr Belsham said that was not true.
‘If she was I would’ve stopped. I would’ve wondered what she was doing there and thought where’s Alyssa and naturally stopped. That would’ve been the end of that,’ Mr Belsham said.
Queensland Police have confirmed no charges would be laid over the incident and said their investigation into the matter had concluded.
UPDATE 2 Feb
The father of the five-year-old girl has defended the driver, who was fired over the incident.
Alyssa’s father Adam New, 37, said while it was “disturbing” his daughter was left on the bus, he didn’t believe Mr Belsham should have lost his job.
“All the kids speak very highly of Ross. He takes very good care of the kids, always has taken very good care of the kids,” Mr New told 9NEWS.
“I believe he had some wrongs in what he did, but to lose his job and be publicly shamed in the way that he has, is not acceptable at all. He should still have his job, he should still be carrying the kids to and from school.”
“As Alyssa’s father I don’t believe he should’ve been sacked.
“If they checked the bus, Alyssa would’ve been found and it wouldn’t have been as big a deal as what it is today.”
An online petition was started calling for the pensioner to be re-employed with the company, with many saying his sacking was unfair.
Mr Belsham, who’s been driving professionally for half a century, received some good news yesterday after another chartering company called him for a job interview.
“We’re a lot happier today, things are looking good,” Mr Belsham told the TODAY Show.
“I got a call yesterday from one of the guys who said I had a big following on ‘the Facebook’ and he’d like to interview me, reports 9 news.
“We had a very good interview, he’s very happy. I’ll be getting some paperwork either today or Monday.”
Mr Belsham said that while he is willing to take “full blame” for what happened, he feels the company has used him as a “scapegoat” over the matter.
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