Investigation launched after boy left trapped in council van

5:47 pm on 24 January 2019

The mother of a young boy trapped in an Auckland Council van for more than 30 minutes says he's now refusing to be left alone, and an investigation has been launched into how it happened.

Te Matariki Clendon Community Centre.

Te Matariki Clendon Community Centre. Photo: Google Maps

Melissa Moe's son, Aiden, fell asleep in the back of a van after returning from an excursion with a council-run holiday programme in South Auckland on Tuesday.

Auckland Council said the Te Matariki Clendon Community Centre's van driver did search to make sure it was empty, but did not spot Aiden.

When he was eventually found and freed, Aiden was physically unharmed, but distressed.

Ms Moe said her son was still very upset by the incident and is refusing to be left alone or to sleep in his bed.

Ms Moe told Five O'clock Report staff at the holiday programme neglected her child.

"They have said that mistakes happen, accidents happen.

"Now, to me, if it had of been a scrape on the knee, a cut on the arm, something like that - that's what I class as an accident, not forgetting about a child in a van for that amount of time.

"That's just neglect, to me," she said.

Six-year-old Aiden cannot be left alone now, Ms Moe said.

"For one, he won't sleep in his own bed, he doesn't like being anywhere on his own. Even playing, he's gotta have someone in the room with him," she said.

Her children have been withdrawn from the programme and Ms Moe said she is not sure if she will enrol them in another.

"I really don't know at this point ... I really don't know what I'm going to do about it," she said.

The council said the driver was also upset by what happened, and had apologised to Ms Moe.

"This has not happened before and is not consistent with our child safety practices and our normal procedures," a council spokesperson said.

"We would like to reassure parents that in addition to our established safeguarding protocols, our drivers will now have to carry out a more comprehensive physical inspection of our vehicles and a passenger count to ensure that no one is left on board after any journey."

The council has launched an investigation into the incident, and leisure operations manager Garth Dawson said changes had already been made.

Drivers will now have to carry out a more comprehensive, physical check of vehicles and count passengers to ensure no one is left on board, Mr Dawson said.

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