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School bus drivers raising awareness after Closs abduction

Posted at 5:05 PM, Jan 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-17 18:39:55-05

There was little that could be done to prevent Jayme Closs' abduction. However, local school bus drivers are doing their part to be aware of suspicious behavior on their routes.

"The thing that I think concerns every bus driver is what happens to the kids before and after they get off the bus," Paul Kolo, Vice President of Operations for GO Riteway Transportation said. "They have control within the bus, but they always need to be aware of things that might be going on just before or after students board the bus or disembark from the bus."

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  • During January, Kolo says drivers are being trained to identify signs of students who are victims of human trafficking. After the Closs case, they're adding more to the training to help drivers be more aware of their surroundings.

    "Our job goes beyond just driving the bus," Tracy McTizic, a bus driver said. "Letting the kids off. Picking them up. Taking them to school. It's way more than that."

    McTizic has been driving school buses for seven years. She says when she heard about Jake Patterson selecting Jayme while she was getting on the bus, it made her sick.

    "It could have been my child," McTizic said. "It could have been my granddaughter. I have a granddaughter that walks to school and I always tell her to make sure she's aware of her surroundings."

    McTizic says the events in Barron serve as a good reminder for all bus drivers to try and be more aware.

    "Any suspicious activity, if I don't feel it's safe to let the kids off, I won't let them off and I'll radio in to let them know the surroundings at this stop aren't safe," McTizic said. "I'll take the kid to their house and drop them off or wait until it's safe and let them off."

    In the Closs case, not much could have been done to avoid the abduction. Jake Patterson told police he targeted Jayme after seeing her board a bus last fall. He said that's when he knew that was the girl he was going to take.

    But any extra heightened awareness will help prevent this from happening again.

    "There's a limited amount anybody can do to prevent somebody who goes out of the way, the way this particular abductor did," Kolo said. "Certainly, our bus drivers can practice observance in everything they do. If there was something that anybody in Jayme's life, whether it was a bus driver or relative, would being a position to see, that would have been certainly a good thing."

    Kolo says GO Riteway bus drivers are also being trained to identify students who may have been sexually abused, victims of human trafficking and children showing signs of depression or potentially harming themselves.

    "Bus drivers may be in a unique situation to see that," Kolo said. "They may be an adult that either a child trusts or bus drivers may be in a position where a child, in unguarded moments, may say things they may not say in front of adults in other situations."