PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Grandparents are shocked and angry their young granddaughter was dropped off in the wrong place by a school bus driver and had to cross four lanes of heavy traffic by herself.
Starla is 7-years-old and goes to Simonsdale Elementary School. Every weekday morning and afternoon, she walks hand in hand with one of her grandparents to and from her bus stop at Cypress Road and Cypress Circle. This is her first year riding the bus and her grandparents said it's been a good year, until the past two days.
Instead of being dropped off at her usual stop, Rheta and David Fell said they saw Starla at the intersection of Portsmouth Boulevard and Cypress Road, trying to cross four lanes of traffic.
"We see is Starla running across the street. And I became super grandma," said Rheta. She ran into the street to try and stop cars from hitting her granddaughter.
David said his granddaughter almost collapsed on the side of the street from the frightful experience. "Starla was In tears and very emotional. It was very upsetting to her. Very traumatic to almost be killed in traffic," said David.
"This nice lady, she was in her car and she let me pass," said Starla.
David said the substitute bus driver told him Starla must have gotten off one stop too soon at the girls' youth center further down Portsmouth Boulevard.
"He says he saw Starla trying to cross the street, but he made no attempt to warn people there was a little girl trying to cross the street," said David.
The Fells believe Starla was confused because the substitute driver didn't follow the usual route. David said the school principal told him they didn't have money to hire and train bus drivers because City Council is holding money back.
"Seems like it's politics and because of the politics my granddaughter almost got killed yesterday," said David.
Now, Fell has a message for the school system.
"They need to train these bus drivers and have more bus drivers available to do these routes on standby or on an everyday basis. I will drive her until I feel like it's safe for her to ride the bus again," said David. He also added he wants to know why Starla was allowed to get off at the wrong stop.
A spokeswoman with Portsmouth Public Schools told News 3 the incident is under investigation and the school district will continue to work with students as well as staff on bus safety.