FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - A Forsyth County Schools bus driver has been fired after school officials acknowledged she left a 6-year-old girl at the wrong spot. Fortunately, a Cumming private investigator spotted the scared, confused kindergartener on the side of Canton Highway and safely transported her to the sheriff's office.
"She was running and walking, running and walking. She was crying," said Jane Holmes who operates Patricia Lane Investigations.
Ms. Holmes recorded video on her car mounted GPS of a little girl who caught her attention. She and her friend made a U-turn on Canton Highway, finding a scared and confused Julianna Pimentel.
"I lost my family because the bus took me to my house and nobody was there," cried the little girl.
Ms. Holmes shared audio she extracted from the video with FOX 5 News.
Holmes said the encounter with the 6-year-old was off-camera at the side door of her car.
Since the little girl had no identification, she took her to a safe place
"I didn't know the circumstances so I said let's take her down to the sheriff's department headquarters," said Holmes.
She said the sheriff's office located the little girl's parents through the school district.
"My wife calls me right away and tells me they found Julianna. As a father I assumed the worst," said Gilberto Pimentel, Julianna Pimentel's father.
Mr. Pimentel said his daughter was supposed to be dropped off from her school Cumming Elementary at her day care on Canton Highway, not the family home.
The school district investigated the December 16 incident, firing the bus driver, 48-year-old Shelly McKinley who was filling in for the regular driver.
"I feel that it's a justice. She put my daughter in harm. She's an adult she knew," said Gilberto Pimentel.
In a prepared statement, a spokesperson for the Forsyth County Schools District wrote:
"This situation is very serious. We are deeply sorry it happened to a student and her family. We are grateful to Mrs. Holmes for securing the student. Forsyth County Schools is committed to ensuring every student is safe."
Mr. Pimentel and Jane Holmes met with FOX 5 News near the spot where Ms. Holmes found Julianna. They hugged and exchanged warm greetings.
Now, the Pimentel's and Jane Holmes are now more than friends, bonded after Julianna was found by a private investigator who knows the realities of the world.
"I know the evil out there and this child could have been abducted," said Ms. Holmes.
The private investigator and Mr. Pimentel both said they hope the ordeal of little Julianna is a reminder to all School Districts and bus drivers to pay attention when young lives are involved.
Mr. Pimentel told FOX 5 News Julianna is still afraid to get back on the bus, so now he said the day care center is helping with those duties.
He also said she now wears a GPS bracelet so they'll never lose track of her.
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