When she waved to her bubbly three-year-old son through the window of the daycare bus as it drove out the driveway on November 12, 2019 she had no idea that in a few short hours the day would turn into the worst of her life.

Just 15 minutes after leaving the home the bus pulled into the Guppy's child care centre on Jubilee St, Caboolture. All the children were taken off the bus and into the centre - expect for one three-year-old boy.

This boy was left on a Guppy's childcare bus for 90 minutes. Photo supplied
This boy was left on a Guppy's childcare bus for 90 minutes. Photo supplied


The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is speaking out for the first time.

The story almost mimics that of the incident that occurred three months later in Cairns - only in that tragic case the three-year-old boy was not found for six hours and did not survive.

"I saw it on the news and it hit me hard, that, that was what had happened to my son just a few weeks ago," the mother said.

"We appreciated at the time how bad it could have been for (my son), I was shocked, frozen, I just had no feelings and went all numb when they told me. I just couldn't imagine what that other mother had to go through."

It was 90 minutes before a parent, who was running late that day, found the three-year-old strapped in his car seat in the bus.

A three-year-old boy was left locked in a Guppy’s childcare bus for 90 minutes on a hot November day.
A three-year-old boy was left locked in a Guppy’s childcare bus for 90 minutes on a hot November day.


According to data from the Bureau of Meteorology it reached a maximum of 30.4 degrees on November 12, 2019.

To this day the boy still remembers what happened to him.

" He told me he fell asleep on the bus and then when he woke up no one was there," his mother said.

"We don't know how long he was asleep on the bus for. He said he knocked on the windows and yelled but no one heard him. He was strapped into his car seat and couldn't move.

"We have no idea what went through his head."

She can still recall the phone call she received from the centre after her son had been rescued from the bus.

She was heading out to do the shopping when they called.

"At first I thought they were calling about fees because she was asking 'how are you' and 'how is your day'. Then she mentioned (my son) and I thought maybe he had fallen and scrapped his knee or something but then she said (my son) had been left on the bus," she said.

Guppy’s Early Learning at 34 Jubilee St, Caboolture.
Guppy’s Early Learning at 34 Jubilee St, Caboolture.


"I freaked out, she went quiet and wouldn't say how long he had been left there. I was around the corner so I just dropped everything and drove straight there."

When she arrived she saw her son sitting on an educator's knee.

"He looked terrified," she said. "I hadn't seen that look in his eye before but I knew something was wrong. He just sat there frozen."

An ambulance had been called but was yet to arrive.

The boy was given the all clear by the doctor and it was a staff member at Caboolture Hospital who reported the incident to the authorities.

Guppys Early Learning Centre managing director Andrew Park pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of failing to ensure a child was adequately supervised and failing to ensure every reasonable precaution was taken to protect the child from hazard.

The court heard that two staff members, including the bus driver, had resigned from the centre.

The corporation was fined $18,000 in relation to each charge, but a conviction was not recorded.

The mum said the incident left her son traumatised for months.

"He is a bubbly, out there boy, but that all changed for a few months. He wouldn't go outside or leave my side," she said.

Guppy's childcare centre at Caboolture have been sentenced after leaving a child on a bus for more than an hour.
Guppy's childcare centre at Caboolture have been sentenced after leaving a child on a bus for more than an hour.


She said there was one moment a few weeks after the incident where she left her son in his car seat so she could open the boot - "the way he screamed when he thought I was going to leave him in the car - it went straight through my body".

The mum kept her son out of daycare for three to four months after the incident.

"When I'd ask if he wanted to go back he would just sit there frozen," she said.

Then one day he was ready to see his friends again, but only if his mum dropped him off and picked him up.

The family have since moved from Caboolture and the boy is now in Prep. But his mum still drops him off at school every day.

She also refuses to let her youngest child catch a bus to daycare - even though it is a different centre.

She said every centre with a pick-up and drop-off service should have two people on the bus.

And she urged every daycare worker to double check the bus was empty, every day.

Originally published as Mum tells of boy's 90 minutes of terror on daycare bus



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