KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- Police said they want to question a man involved in an incident with an 11-year-old girl who was let off at the wrong school bus stop Wednesday.
According to Bennington Police Officer David Faden, at 3:30 p.m. the girl was walking on Route 7A near Houghton Lane after she had been let off at the wrong bus stop. Faden said the girl, a student at Mount Anthony Union Middle School, was confused and got on the wrong bus, then off at the wrong stop alongside another student she didn’t know.
As she was walking, a man in a new-looking, blue, four-door Toyota bearing Vermont license plates pulled up beside her and got her to stop walking. He then reached toward her. Police said the girl told them it appeared to her the man was reaching to open his door, but a witness told police it seemed he was reaching for her.
According to police, the girl told them the man said something to her but she wasn’t sure what.
Faden said a bus carrying high school students came upon the scene and the driver of the Toyota sped off. He said the driver of that bus got out and took the girl onto his vehicle, as she was crying and upset.
The girl said the man’s car had multi-colored beads hanging from the rearview mirror. She described as being in his 60s or 70s with a long white beard that went below his neckline. He wore glasses and a gray shirt. No plate number was available.
Police said the man is a "person of interest" and anyone with information is asked to called Bennington police at 802-442-1030.
Southwestern Vermont Supervisory Union Superintendent Catherine McClure said in the first days of school it’s not unusual for a student to get on the wrong bus. School started Tuesday, she said, and teachers have been reviewing bus routes and numbers with students to make sure each gets where they’re supposed to go, but routes change and new students show up who hadn’t registered beforehand. "During the first days, there may be some confusion," she said.
She said she has reviewed this incident, and the girl’s parents and police have been spoken to. She said safety is the district’s main concern, and that it appears the girl and the bus drivers acted appropriately given the situation.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr