Bus driver Rosemarie Fullone used her instincts to help a lost student with Down syndrome get back to her family.
Chance meeting brings lost girl home
First Student Inc.
Thanks to her instincts and an auspiciously blocked street, bus driver Rosemarie Fullone of Schaumburg, Ill., was able to help safely return a young female student with Down syndrome to her worried parents.
“I shouldn’t get involved sometimes, but my eyes were telling me that something was wrong here,” Fullone says.
After a charter had been canceled on the morning of Aug. 4, Fullone began heading back to the office and realized that her usual route was blocked.
Driving down a different street led her to find a young lady with Down syndrome walking alone on the sidewalk. Fullone’s granddaughter had been diagnosed with the same condition, so she decided to trust her instincts and find out whether the girl had been left behind by another school bus.
A quick call to the dispatcher confirmed that all the scheduled pick-ups and drop-offs had been made, so Fullone made a U-turn, only to find that the young woman was trying to wave down drivers.
“I stopped my bus, I got out of my bus, left my four-way flashers on, put my jacket on, and I walked over to her,” Fullone says.
The young lady was named Elizabeth and was trying to get to McDonald’s. “She just couldn’t change her mind,” Fullone says.
After speaking with her and looking at her ID, Fullone was able to get in contact with Elizabeth’s father, who happened to be out looking for her at the time.
“She just got out of the house and as her dad said, she’d never done it before,” Fullone says. “Her brother was right there behind him in another car.”
After the incident, Fullone received a heartfelt letter from Elizabeth’s family, as well as thank-you letters from her supervisor and from the president of First Student Inc.
“I think most bus drivers are very observant. People don’t realize it, but we are,” Fullone adds. “I don’t think it’s the high-tech things we’re using. It’s the people and how they’re trained.”
Fullone has worked as a school bus driver for more than 45 years and continues to enjoy working with children just as much as she did when she started in 1965, she says.
— JENNIFER WASHINGTON