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5-year-old girl alone on bus showed ‘no cause for concern,’ transportation company says

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Portland, OR — TriMet bus drivers were notified of a missing 5-year-old girl the morning of July 23. They were told the girl’s name was Alecia.

So, when a bus driver spotted a little girl on his bus, he yelled back to ask her if her name was Alecia. She said no.

“Are you sure your name isn’t Alecia?” the driver repeated, according to a report released by TriMet on Tuesday.

It turns out, the missing girl’s name was incorrectly reported to TriMet.

The child ended up traveling for nearly 90 minutes before she was discovered by a deputy on board the bus at the Clackamas Town Center.

Witnesses reported spotting the girl getting on the bus at Southeast 122nd and Foster Road at around 6 a.m. They said the bus drove off before they could get to her, so they called police.

The girl’s parents then realized she was missing and also called 911. Police put out an alert asking for other area agencies to keep an eye out for the girl.

TriMet said surveillance video shows the girl boarding the bus, paying her fare with no hesitancy and then sitting down. A man who got on the bus right behind her also sat down across the aisle from her.

When the driver noticed that the man was gone, he asked the girl what happened to him.

“The girl, still showing no cause for concern, said she didn’t know and that she was going to see her sister,” according to a TriMet report.

At that point, the driver once again asked, “Are you sure your name isn’t Alecia?” The girl again said no.

TriMet said they received the incorrect name of the girl from police dispatchers, as well a description that incorrectly described her style of hair and clothing.

At some point, it appears from the surveillance video that the girl fell asleep. TriMet dispatchers continued working with police to identify all buses that had been in the area of Southeast 122nd and Foster Road at the time the girl went missing.

The Line 71 bus was eventually tracked to the Clackamas Town Center. A deputy boarded the bus, woke the girl up and escorted her off the bus, surveillance video shows, at 7:25 a.m. She was then reunited with her family.

TriMet said an investigation was immediately launched. Managers interviewed the bus driver and others, and the surveillance video was reviewed.

“In it, the girl’s actions never show any cause for alarm,” according to TriMet.

“This incident has led to discussions on how old a child should be to ride alone. We leave it up to parents to decide, but if a very young child boards alone, or if the child is in distress and the operator is concerned for the child’s safety, the operator contacts our control center for assistance,” TriMet said in a statement Tuesday.

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