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Probe Derry parents 'flabbergasted' as 15 schoolchildren end up in boot of bus during school run

It’s believed the driver told pupils the main door was broken, asking them to use the emergency door at the back of the bus

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The pupils were on their way to Oakgrove Integrated College

The pupils were on their way to Oakgrove Integrated College

The pupils were on their way to Oakgrove Integrated College

A parent in Derry has said she was left “flabbergasted” after 15 schoolchildren ended up in the luggage compartment of a bus during the morning school run.

It’s understood that on the morning of last Friday, a double decker bus had arrived to pick up pupils from Oakgrove Integrated College in the Waterside area of Derry.

It’s believed the driver told pupils the main door was broken, asking them to use the emergency door at the back of the bus.

Somehow, the luggage compartment door was also opened and 15 pupils ended up crawling inside.

Whether or not this was intentional, the door was shut and the vehicle continued on the journey.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster was Joanne Kelly, whose daughter Molly is a Year 13 pupil at Oakgrove. Her daughter got on the bus at a later stop and became concerned when she started to hear voices.

Ms Kelly said: “People were calling out to her, ‘We’re in the boot’”.

By the next stop at Altnagelvin, she said Molly informed the driver the rest of the children were in the boot.

“He scratches his head and looks a bit confused… so he gets off the bus and opens the luggage compartment.

“These 15 children appear… I can’t really go with the word to describe it but I’ll go with flabbergasted,” she said.

She said the children got back on the bus and continued the journey to school.

After the children reported it to school staff, parents were then informed.

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Ms Kelly continued: “When I spoke with Molly, I said... ‘You’re 17, had you have been at the first stop and the bus man had instructed you to get into the luggage compartment, would you have done so?’

“She paused for a moment and replied, ‘Well Mammy I probably would have if the other 15 people did because the bus man told us to’.

“They probably assumed there was a way of gaining access to the seating area.”

Ms Kelly said the situation was confusing as the driver had exited the bus through the rear door.

“It makes me feel a little concerned,” she said.

She welcomed an apology from Translink, and said she hoped an investigation would find out the truth and reassure parents it won’t ever happen again.

A Translink spokesperson said it is currently investigating a “recent incident involving pupils on a school bus service” in Derry.

“These pupils did not receive the level of customer care they should have been given, and we apologise unreservedly to these young passengers for this inconvenience.

“We carry over 55,000 young people to and from school every day, and safety is our top priority.

“This was an unfortunate isolated incident and we will be following up with the young passengers involved.

“We would like to reassure all young people, their parents, carers and school representatives that we have taken steps to ensure this will not happen again.”

A spokesperson for Oakgrove said they were made aware once pupils arrived at school and that Translink and the Education Authority were informed. “We can make no further comment until we fully understand what happened and the steps that are being taken to address it.”

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