A bus load of children from My Place Child Care in Newark, on their way to a field trip at The Farm at Walnut Creek in Sugarcreek, never reached their destination.
For four hours, no one at the child care center knew where the nine children and their teacher were.
The teacher, who was also playing the role of driver, set out on the 60 mile journey to Sugarcreek on Wednesday. She was following another bus.
"At about 10:30 (a.m.), 10:45 got a call from the other driver saying 'Hey, the other driver did not make it,'" said daycare owner Shaun Linton.
Linton said that is when he jumped in his car and headed to Holmes County.
My Place Child Care said both drivers were equipped with MapQuest directions and cell phone navigation systems, but they said the driver told them that she lost cell service when she entered Holmes County.
Linton said he made repeated attempts to call the driver on her phone, but she never answered.
"I went to Holmes County myself and drove around for a little while, just making sure in the general area there weren't any accidents," said Linton. "Like I said, contacted the local police department."
Knowing the children all had packed lunches; Linton said he did not believe the children were in immediate danger. But he still did not know where they could be, until another teacher spotted the missing bus just 15 minutes from where it started.
Linton said that is why he waited until 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday to inform the childrens' parents.
"I really didn't have any accurate information to give them at that time, so I didn't want to create any unnecessary panic, if you know, the driver got back here at the time that she was supposed to," he said.
After a four hour bus trip, the children all returned safely.
Linton said the parents of all nine children allowed them to make up their field trip the next day.
My Place Child Care terminated the teacher for failing to communicate.
The teacher missed the final turn to the farm and got lost, Linton said, but was never able to explain why she did not just return to the children to the center.
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