NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A bus driver and matron are facing charges after leaving a little girl on a bus.
She was found wandering alone on a street in Brooklyn on Monday. CBS2’s Andrea Grymes spoke to two Department of Environmental Protection workers who found her.
The workers said they don’t even want to think about what could’ve happened if they didn’t find the little girl, named Nicole, who was wandering alone in the middle of busy Shore Parkway.
“As a parent, I saw her walking and it was just horrible,” Matthew Alongi said.
Alongi and Tori Boria were on the job at Shore Parkway and 27th Avenue in Gravesend when they noticed the 4-year-old all alone in the street.
“I brought her over and I said, ‘Are you lost?’ She said to me, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Where’s your parents?’ And she just looked at me,” Alongi said.
Web Extra: DEP Crew Describes Finding 4-Year-Old Girl:
Investigators said the girl’s mom put her on the bus for day care on Monday morning. The bus arrived at Bam Bam’s Playhouse Daycare Center on Banner Avenue in Brighton Beach, but the girl never got off, and no one noticed.
The driver then allegedly drove home to his house on Shore Parkway, parked and went inside. Sources said the girl managed to get off the bus and wandered a few blocks to Shore and 27th Avenue, where the DEP crew found her and called 911.
“I played some games with her. We watched Mickey Mouse and we just waited until the cops got there,” Boria said. “She wasn’t necessarily scared. You could tell she was worried. She wasn’t crying.”
Cops then used surveillance video and retraced her steps to the bus.
Grymes learned the day care identified her and called her mother. They were finally reunited around 7 p.m.
“My mom, she like hugged her and was like crying over her,” Nicole’s older brother, Christopher, told Grymes on Tuesday. “Something bad could’ve happened to her.”
For the DEP crew that found her, that was the scary part.
“It could’ve went into somebody else’s hands. A car could’ve ran her over. Ugh. Just leave it be,” Alongi said.
Police said the driver, 76-year-old Anatoliy Elkin, and the matron, 63-year-old Galina Zabarnaya, were arrested and charged with failure to exercise control of a minor. Grymes did speak to the owner of the day care and he said parents contract directly with the driver to take their kids to day care. He said Elkin owns the business and has been driving kids for years, and he believes Monday’s incident was just an honest mistake.
Elkin and Zabarnaya were expected to be arraigned sometime Tuesday.