PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL (WFLX) - The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said deputies were called out to Northlake Boulevard after getting a call Monday two little girls were wandering the streets without their parents.
A spokesperson confirmed once deputies arrived, they learned the girls were dropped off by a Palm Beach County School District bus driver. Deputies then handed the investigation over to school district police.
Aleece Gonzalez, 9, is now safe and sound with her parents after living through what she calls, "a nightmare". "I was really scared and worried that I'd never see them again," said Aleece Gonzalez.
The 9-year-old said she was on her way home from summer school at Eisenhower Elementary School when her bus driver dropped her and another classmate off at a nearby Burger King on Northlake Boulevard. At the same time, the 9-year-old's mom said she waited miles away at the designated bus stop. "It's a parents worst fear for their child not to show up," said Andi Gonzalez.
Panicked, Andi and her husband, Daniel, said they called 911. "Horrible things happen every day, and a lot of parents don't get to see their kids because of mistakes like that," said Daniel Gonzalez.
Lost, the girls eventually wondered to a BP gas station farther down Northlake Boulevard. "If you saw that little girl and heard her crying, 'I want my mommy,' you can't possibly leave that and sleep at night. It would haunt you," said Alfredo Gonzalez who found the girls.
A father of a young child himself, Alfredo called the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. "My daughter is 9-years-old. She never wants to ride a bus again, and that's horrible to think of, that she would feel that way. I don't want for anyone's child, I don't want for any parent to worry about their child," said Daniel Gonzalez.
The Gonzalez family said they are just thankful for Alfredo, the man they call their hero. "I would say thank you very much. You are a good guy," said Aleece Gonzalez.
The Gonzalez family said they will be driving and picking up their daughter for the near future.
Calls and e-mails for comment to the Palm Beach County School District and district police were not returned.