JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two Duval County children were hospitalized Wednesday night for heat exhaustion after their bus driver left them on a parked school bus for an hour with no air conditioning, their mother said.
Birnie Bus Company picks the two girls up along with other students at Chimney Lakes Elementary School. It then drives about 2 miles to Enterprise Learning Academy to pick up more children.
That's where Jolene Carlton said the bus just sat with her children in the heat. Late Wednesday, her daughters were at the hospital on base at NAS Jacksonville.
"It tears me up. It makes me very emotional because I couldn't help," Carlton said.
Carlton's older daughter, 10-year-old Taylor (on left in photo above), is being kept at the hospital overnight because she couldn't stop throwing up. Doctors gave her an IV and put her on medication, saying she's suffering from heat exhaustion. Carlton's other daughter on the bus, 8-year-old Sylvia (pictured on right), was released from the hospital Wednesday night.
Carlton said she furious with the bus company because she said the past few days, the bus driver is pulling over, while the kids sit for an hour without air conditioning. The driver also has to pick up kids at Enterprise, so the kids are sitting in the heat again there.
News4Jax Chief Meteorologist John Gaughan said Wednesday's afternoon temperatures reached 95 degrees with a heat index of 103 degrees.
Carlton's daughters said sometimes the windows on the bus are up and sometimes they're down, but it's up to the bus driver to open them.
Carlton and other parents said the children are getting off the bus lethargic and with red faces.
Parents said they are also upset that their kids, who get out of school at 3:30 p.m., aren't getting home until 6:30 p.m., much later than they're supposed to.
"It's a parent's worst thing to hear your child call you from a bus and no one will help her because she's having an asthma attack," Carlton said. "It's not right, and it's scary. … I put my children's lives into their hands, and I feel like they fail."
Carlton said employees at Enterprise Learning Academy pulled her children off the bus because the bus driver wouldn't let her daughter off even though she was having an asthma attack.
News4Jax contacted Birnie Bus Company about the incident, but a message has not yet been returned.
A spokeswoman from the school district said officials are looking into the incident to see what's going on, so they can address the issue.